Kids in Africa facing cyber threats on their phones

Posted on September 10, 2014 10:26 pm

A new report by a Non-Governmental organisations has revealed that Children across African countries are being exposed to dangers such as cyber-bullying and sexually explicit images due to the growing popularity of smart phones, the study suggests. Twenty percent of eight- to 16-year-olds polled in six Sub Saharan Africa reported negative experiences such as receiving taunting text messages or nude pictures through messaging apps like WhatsApp, Viber. This is above the continental average of 8 percent, and experts point to the fact that Africa has one of the world’s lowest rates of smart phone use. The findings polled 600 children and 1200 parents in each of the six countries surveyed. “More than one in 15 children in Africa own a mobile phone and that has seen Cyber criminals continue to capitalise on the rising adoption of these mobile devices, and it is important to have adequate safety measures.”

This was the first time smart phones were included in a study. It also asked respondents about negative experiences on the Internet including on Tablets, Phablets and computers. The most common issue was strangers trying to befriend them on social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google Plus. Another complaint was the number of violent images found online and which are easily accessible. The study found the combined impact of these negative experiences left children feeling angry, fearful and upset. Nevertheless, more than two thirds of youngsters said they would not tell their mother and father in case their parents overreacted. There is need for parents to always ensure a two-way conversations with their children instead of interrogating them or engaging in a monologue according to the authors of the study. Only 48 percent of parents talk to their children about online safety, said the study. It also found that a child who follows rules set by parents is less likely to come to harm online. Study recommends that the best way to keep youngsters safe is to avoid being too protective.

Contador Harrison