The world has evolved tremendously. From walking thousands of kilometres on foot to connecting to various destinations globally by air, from having fire as the only source of light to using electricity to brighten almost all corners of the earth and from manual labour to mechanization. Change has been inevitable, and the internet has not been left behind.
It is impossible to live without the internet in the current generation as many if not all activities are online driven. Effective teaching and learning are now taking place on the internet enabling minorities like Mercy Lodepe from Lokichogio realize her dream of being a teacher through online courses offered by institutions of higher learning. E-commerce not left behind has also seen entrepreneurs advertising products and services online and now Hassan from Lunga Lunga no longer travels thousands of miles to Nairobi to purchase a product but simply makes order online and within few days, the product is delivered at his doorstep.
As much as the internet has many advantages, there is nothing good without flaws. Cyberbullying, online predators, pornographic influence, violent extremism, and all that corrupts good morals have penetrated the internet without limits.
Many children and youth are becoming vulnerable to online predators and have ended up committing appalling acts. Warunge in Kiambu killing almost all his family members was propelled by him watching the movie series ‘Killing Eve,’ while the 44 underage students lost and found indulging in orgies at mountain view amidst school closure due to the pandemic was linked to an online group known as carty-gang-ent.
Terrorist groups have also seen an opportunity online for perpetrating their ideologies targeting the youth and children. A recent report by ATPU revealed that the January 15 Dusit D2 complex attack was planned through Facebook.
Regardless of the benefits brought about by the internet our present and future are threatened hence the need for being vigilant online. To win against this, parents and children need to be aware of the risks that face them whenever visiting the internet. Being SMART will ensure your online safety:
S (stay safe)-Never give out your personal information to people/ places you do not know.
M (Meeting Up)-Do not meet up with someone you have only been in touch with online.
A (Accepting files)- You should not accept files, emails, pictures, texts from people you do not know.
R (Reliable)- Authenticate all information before you trust it.
T (Tell someone)-Share with someone anything that worries you or makes you uncomfortable.
Everyone has their part to play in making the internet a better place. Let us follow these SMART tips to keep ourselves and others safe. Reach us out via our Twitter handle @CSMechanism, Facebook- (Citizen Support Mechanism) and on our website www.citizensupport.go.ke in case you encounter strange online content.