A new research titled, ‘Risks and Opportunities Related to Child Online Practices in Ghana’ has been launched to provide insight on children’s use of the internet.
The research conducted by UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and other partners into child online practices in Ghana, revealed that four out of 10 young people have contacted someone on the internet they had never met face to face before.
The report also captures the enormous opportunities and benefits children derive from the use of the internet and the kind of support structures, supervision and control measures that exist to protect children online.
The research is part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month titled, Risks and Opportunities Related to Child Online Practices in Ghana, and provides insight and information on access, usage, user habits, risk and opportunities related to the use of the internet among children aged between nine and seventeen years. Two thousand children and 1000 parents or caregivers across the ten regions of Ghana were interviewed.
In her address at the launch, Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said: “The internet revolution has transformed how we communicate and access information and is an increasingly valuable resource for children and young people to learn, socialize, innovate and connect.
However, the increase in accessibility to the internet has resulted in an increased threat to the safety and security of children online. This is because they can be exposed to bullying, online abuse, harassment, or identity theft, which can negatively impact their well-being”, the minister added.
She also noted: “Child online protection requires a multi organizational approach with local, national and international co-operation and I would like to encourage all stakeholders to get involved in the collaborative effort to protect children within the virtual online space and ensure a safe and secure online experience for children everywhere.”
The study also shows that approximately three in ten children/adolescents have experienced something that bothered or upset them while online.
“UNICEF is pleased to support this research as a first step in a collaborative effort to protect children in the digital space”, said Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Representative in Ghana.
She further said: “Recommendations include the need for interventions to sensitize and help children on responsible and safe online practices, including what and who to share personal information with and who to add as a friend, as well as available safety options.
Secondly, since children mostly use the internet at home, parents/guardians have a significant role to play in supporting, mediating or monitoring without limiting the rights of children and benefits of using the internet. Finally, the survey shows that there is limited use of the internet at school. Interventions to increase and improve this will be required to support teaching and learning.”
According to the report, only two out of ten parents or guardians are confident that their children can cope with things that upset them while online. Nearly three out of ten (28 percent) parents/guardians are also confident of offering support to their children to cope with things that upsets them online.