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Government intensifying efforts to safeguard children from harm within internet space

The GCIS in partnership with Digify Africa, hosted a webinar on how to build a safer internet space for children. Picture: Pexels

The GCIS in partnership with Digify Africa, hosted a webinar on how to build a safer internet space for children. Picture: Pexels

Published Apr 6, 2022

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Pretoria - The government is intensifying efforts to educate society about responsible online citizenry and ways to effectively safeguard children from harm within the internet space.

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) in partnership with Digify Africa, hosted a webinar on how to build a safer internet space for children.

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Panellists from Media Monitoring Africa and the Film and Publication Board highlighted the importance of online safety, recommended interventions to protect children online and encouraged parents to monitor their children’s online activity more closely.

The panellists also highlighted the risks of over-sharing on social media and warned internet users to be careful of the material content they post or repost.

Among them was Phakamile Khumalo, who said the South African Kids Online Study by Unicef and

the Department of Social Services found that 70% of children surveyed were on the internet without parental consent.

Khumalo said it was important to understand what young people were doing online.

“We know the children are on the internet whether it is at home, school, library or with friends, but what we also know is that not a lot of them know the skills, tools and the resources to be safe online.

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“Which takes me to the point that South African children are not fully ready to take advantage of the internet to their fully digital rights and active digital citizen.”

Khumalo said the children were not using the internet responsibly and wisely in a way that enhanced their democracy in the country where they could participate in high level discussions.

She said children could use the internet to advance their passions and talents, and become influencers on issues affecting society as a whole.

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“They are not using the internet in a meaningful way and we want to start educating them to use it in a meaningful way.”

Another panellist Mmaletjema Poto said the challenge the world was facing was the issue of circulation of child pornography on the internet.

“We are very passionate about fighting this issue and there is a lot of distribution of this content.

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“We found that a lot of teenagers are creating this child pornography material.

“We also have parents, guardians and adults who are distributing such materials without being aware.”

Poto said the circulation of school children fighting was wrong and created a window for cyberbullying and she encouraged people to report materials that were toxic and harmful to others.

The panel also spoke about community standards on social media platforms that could help report such content, and that South Africans could do more in that regard.

Internet users were warned to be careful of what they took in online and encouraged them to take part in programmes that could help them to use the internet in a meaningful way.

Pretoria News

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