Online Security; A Kenyan Perspective

Answering the question about online security that lurks in the mind of most parents today.

How safe is your child online? Many parents are not sure of their answer to that question, and many have no clue of the dangers that lurk on the internet. Yes, there is a difference between digitization and being online, but that is a battle for another day. The dangers on the internet evolve with time. From pedophiles to scammers and extremism, online safety is now a major concern.

In the days of old, we had paedohiles as the main online danger that parents were afraid of. Then came a quick rise of online sex pests who would later blackmail their prey. Those were quickly replaced by email spammers and pranksters. Then identity thieves followed suit. The email spammers turned to scammers, they started emptying bank accounts of their victims. Those have been phased out by the modern terrorist who is recruiting young people to carry out lone-wolf attacks.

By now, you are asking for the quick fix. There is none. In the world of the internet, it is everyone for himself and our creator for us all. There is nothing that works for all, and when it does it is quickly overtaken. From when they start their first interactions with internet-enabled phones, to their first email, children and youths are always at risk from something on the internet.

The best course of action for a parent to ensure online security for their child, is to talk to your son / daughter about being on the internet. Together, explore what is good for them to do on the internet. Installing the famous parental controls over devices and networks rarely works. The young ones are always finding, and successfully using tactics to go around parental controls. So, teach your offspring to be their own filters of the content they consume online. It is even better if you teach them how to use the internet. Be there in their first baby-step into the internet and show them around. Guide them a little on online safety choices and then let them loose. That way, you will be 75% sure your child is equipped to defend herself online. The other 25% … uhh…ummm….is the part where you grab a prayer book and go onto your knees.

P.S I had indicated that there will be a next and more comprehensive part to follow. Instead of that, I decided to update this blog post. Inspired by the recent expansion of Netflix, the Kenyan authority on film got increasingly vocal. We are yet to know the effect of that noise, but for now many youths are happy about Netflix. Al-shabaab is knocking on Kenya’s online doors too. I believe measures should be put in place to fight the extremist group’s online presence. Failure to do so will result in something not so good for Kenya.

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