Safety online and offline is a serious challenge. Online grooming, sexual abuse, online scams, identity theft are a click away from the child. Children need protection and security online as the internet penetration rate in Cameroon explodes, and kids have more access to gadgets connected to the internet.
The National Agency for Information and Communication Technologies, ANTIC, has begun chiming the alarm bells. Cameroon’s Cybersecurity Agency has carried out a three-day (24-26 November 2021) Child Online Protection Campaign in some six primary schools within the Mfoundi division of the Centre region.
According to ANTIC’s Communication Unit, “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”.
Protection of children within cyberspace passes through the education of children and the sensitization of parents.
Pupils without a second thought share names, photos, school and home addresses to unknown “friends” online, and take physical appointments with persons they’ve met online.
Children could be lured to send intimate photos or tempted to download applications that have malware that targets kids. Criminals take advantage of technological advances, such as fast file sharing, inter-connecting apps and games, cryptocurrencies, live streaming, the Dark Web, encryption software. ANTIC campaign team says knowing online risks and dangers would keep away the kids from pedophiles, sexual predators, child traffickers, and scammers.
The campaign has also integrated parental control as a requisite online security measure that parents must embrace to keep their children safe online. ANTIC encourages parents to discuss basic Internet security and safety measures with their children. ANTIC recommends spot phishing emails, confidentiality settings on social media accounts, and parental controls on devices to block access to illicit or inappropriate content like pornography.
ANTIC came with gifts - offered ICT equipment - printers and photocopiers to the six schools shortlisted for the pilot phase of 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. The gesture ties with ANTIC’s mission of promoting the adoption of ICTs.