Parents Asked To Navigate Children’s Shift To Online Learning

Parents and caregivers have been asked to navigate their children’s shift to online learning and recreation while balancing work and other uncertainties related to the Covid19 pandemic.

The minister of gender, children and social protection, Cynthia Mamle Morrison, said increased internet use can put children at greater risk of online harms such as sexual exploitation, cyber bullying, online risk behavior, potential harmful content, used and sharing of data and limited child safeguarding online.

Speaking at the formal opening of this year’s “National Cyber Security Awareness Month and Launch Of Internet World Foundation (IWF) Child Online Protection Reporting Portal,” she said, as a ministry they are committed to the issue of child online protection and were working with partners to strengthen the legislative environment for the protection of our children in all setting.

She commended the ministry of communication and its partners for their efforts in strengthening Ghana’s cyber security environment.

The minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful whose speech was read on her behalf by Alexander K. Abban said the advent of Covid-19 has demonstrated an increased dependency on technology by governments, private sectors and individuals globally.

“The theme for the celebration dubbed; “Cyber security in the Era of COVID-19,” was reflective enough considering the circumstances the world found itself in where digital infrastructure had become the bedrock of socio-economic development.”

She said 2019 report launched by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development Goals, posited that more than 50 percent of the world’s population was now online, whereas children constituted more than 30 per cent of Internet users.

She said reliance on Information Communication Technology (ICT) and the internet in 2020 had led to immeasurable opportunities for citizens, especially children and young people who relied on it to conduct research, attend classes, study, and socialize.

Mrs. Ekuful noted that children and young people made up a significant percentage of internet users, adding that the utilisation of the internet had threatened young people with Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM).

“children are exposed to online sexual abuse through cyber grooming , cyberstalking, sextortion , and gaming applications and government over the past three and half years have implemented a number of initiatives to secure its digital journey to create awareness among children , public businesses.”

She revealed that the ministry has also revised its national cyber security policy and strategy and was preparing to submit it to cabinet for consideration before the end of the year.

Anne- Claire Dufay, the country representative of UNICEF Ghana in an address said internet users increased from about nine million in 2017 to twenty million globally which called for the establishment of mechanisms to protect them in the digital space.

She said UNICEF was impressed at the steps taken by ghana as leaders in the fight against cybercrime in the west African sub- region.

Dr Albert Antwi- Boasiako, National cyber security advisor in an address mentioned that about 11,545 cases of cyber crime had been recorded in the country through national cyber security centre from January to August this year.

He said as part of the celebration, a number of senior high school students will be educated on hygienic online practices adding that the introduction of the child protection online reporting portal will help protect the image of children online and secure them from potential abuse and manipulations.

Also present at the event was Christopher Lamora, Deputy Chief of Mission who represented Stephanie S. Sullivan the US Ambassador to Ghana, Eric Ofosu Nkansah Managing director of Accra Digital Centre and other stakeholders

Pix saved in new daily folder as cyber awareness
Caption: from left, Christopher Lamora, Anne- Claire Dufay Alexander K. Abban, Cynthia Mamle Morrison, Dr Albert Antwi- Boasiako and Eric Ofosu Nkansah launching the child online protection reporting portal at the official launch of the national cyber security awareness month.

By Linda Tenyah-Ayettey