With the advent of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and particularly the Internet, children are interconnected more than ever before. In Cameroon like elsewhere in the world, the restrictions to children’s experiences are no longer bound by their bedroom doors, classroom walls, or national frontiers.
Today’s children are open to the Internet via virtual classrooms, video calling, online gaming, entertainment and social media. Despite this visible gamut of benefits offered by the Internet, children are exposed to an unlimited number of threats, the most common of which has to do with: exposure to inappropriate content, chat room “friends” that could be predators, cyberbullying, online scams, viruses and child identity theft. These challenges indisputably triggers a need for Internet security and safety awareness.
It is with this in hindsight that the National Agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ANTIC) – Cameroon’s Cybersecurity Agency has elected to carry out a three-day (24-26 November 2021) Child Online Protection Campaign in some six primary schools in the Mfoundi Division, Centre Region.
While the government is seeking to give children and youth digital independence and access to all of the benefits ICT has to offer, it equally wants them to be safe and protected online.
The pupils have been groomed on dangers notably: risks of sharing personal information such as names, photos, school and home address to unknown persons met online, taking physical appointments with unknown persons met online, snapping and sharing intimate photos, cyberbullying and risks inherent in downloading applications given that malware lurks in applications targeting kids. Awareness on the aforementioned risks would help spare the kids from falling prey to the snares of pedophiles, sexual predators, child traffickers and scammers.
Parental control is a requisite online security measure that parents must undertake to cater for the safety of their children online. Parents are expected to discuss basic Internet security and safety measures with their children, such as how to spot phishing emails and how to set confidentiality settings on social media accounts, set parental controls on their devices to block illicit or inappropriate content like pornography.
At the fringes of the campaign, ANTIC in keeping with its mission of promoting the adoption of ICTs, offered ICT equipment such as printers and photocopiers to the six schools shortlisted for the campaign, notably:
- École Catholique Christ Roi, Tsinga
- École Publique Ekoudou, Brisqueterie
- École Privée de David Lavoisier, Efoulan
- École Bilingue Publique du Centre Administratif
- École Publique Ekorezock, Nkolbisson
- École Bilingue Mount Zion, Nkolbisson.