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New initiative to promote safe use of technology among children

digital kids

Parents and their children have a chance to learn responsible use of technology following the launch of an initiative to promote Internet safety.

The Digital Kids Show launched in Nairobi at the weekend will be held annually during the December school holidays to ensure positive use of digital technology among children and young people.

The Director of the Digital Kids Show, Mr. Martin Muli, said the event will help create a better and safer online community for children.

“The initiative calls upon young people, parents, teachers, social workers and wider online community, to join together in helping to create a better Internet enviroment,” said Mr. Muli.

The launch event was attended by pupils, teachers, and parents from several schools and IT service providers.

The event organisers have lined up several activities next year as a build up towards the inaugural digital kids show.

The first will be the Digital Kids Club, which is aimed at empowering 50 children in every county to champion online safety and equip the next generation with IT skills at an early age.

Digital 4 Parenting on the other hand is meant to help parents understand the dangers of digital media and opportunities to enable them protect the family unit from risks of new digital trend.

In 2013, Kenya was declared an ‘overachiever’ with regard to Internet use, racing ahead of China in global rankings on access and usage of the Web. Kenya was the only African nation to feature in a special segment of the The Web Index 2013 Report survey that measured Internet growth and its impact on people.

Mr. Martin said affordable internet-enabled mobile phones and flexible prepaid schemes are allowing more and more Kenyans to access the Internet and children and young people are leading the rise in their use with possible serious impacts on their lives.

A 2013 study by Unicef, A (Private) Public Space,  revealed the changing media landscape in Kenya has changed the way young Kenyans involved in this study seek information and news, make new connections, and entertain themselves. They consider digital and social media to be an integral part of their lives. Many use the internet regularly and most have access to a shared phone or their own personal phone, with internet access.

The study examined the use and impact of digital and social media among Adolescents in Kenya. It showed that young people’s digital use is framed by their need to explore and be inquisitive, social or sometimes even exhibitionist among those they choose to befriend. This occasionally may lead to risky behavior.

The inaugural Digital Kids Festival will be held in Nairobi next year and will offer various organizations involved in promoting use of technology among children opportunity to showcase their products and contribute to the debate on Internet security.

“We have created a platform to help guide children and young people towards safe, enjoyable experiences online, so as to encourage behavioral change and responsible online us just as they would offline,” said Martin who is also the director of the Kenya Social Media Awards.

He noted that many children have been victims of cyber bullying, which has impacted negatively on their lives.

It is hard for adults to identify and prevent cases of cyber bullying against children online, especially if it happens in games or through chat. During the festival there will education sessions for children, parents, and teachers on how to keep Kids safe from cyber bullying.

“Our goal is to create an environment in which cyber bullying is truly unacceptable. We hope to both educate and help prevent harmful online behavior from occurring in the first place. Because we believe that all kids deserve to be safe online,” said Martin.

The festival will also help children learn ways of balancing their time so that the online world does not take over their lives.

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