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Expert seeks online safety for children

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A cybersecurity expert, Ms Olawale Odeneye says highlighting risks, consequences and boosting teenagers’ knowledge will ensure their online safety from preys and bandwagon effects.

Odeneye, Convener, Child Online Safety Nigeria Initiative, said this at the 27th annual Teenage Festival of Life (TFL) in Lagos.

TFL is a forum that enables young people and relevant stakeholders to identify the plights facing youths through artistic presentations with a view to enlisting them as critical stakeholders.

Revealed  that TFL, organised by an NGO, Action Health Incorporated (AHI), is dedicated to promoting youth’s health and development toward their successful transition to adulthood.

Odeneye said that online risks to teenagers are significant and growing, as the risks vary by age, gender and online exposure, adding exposure to sexual content was the largest online risk.

She noted that social media networking sites are alluring to children and many easily sidestep age verification measures when signing up due to peer pressure.

According to her, reducing online risk depends on a child’s resilience, parental guidance and support, and digital skills (such as ability to manage privacy settings).

“Truth of the matter is that I don’t subscribe to teenagers being on any social media platform until they are 16.

“That is because we believe that at the age of 16, they’re literally informed and they understand the do’s and the don’ts and they can safely navigate themselves around at that age.

“I tell parents, we need to come to a place where we become a trusted adult that a child is able to come to with anything without fear of judgment,” she said.

Odeneye noted that spending time on virtual platforms makes children susceptible to online sexual exploitation and grooming, as well as cyberbullying.

“Predators exploit their naivety and ignorance,” she said.

She emphasised the need for supervision and placement of tools to safeguard children’s online presence.

Also, Dr Uwem Essiet, AHI’s Co-Founder, said the organisation had built the capacity of students to become champions of sexual and gender based violence in their homes, schools and communities.

Essiet noted that the festival was shaping the life of youths to utilise their ingenuity in building the socio-economic landscape of the country to greatness.

He added that for over 27 years, the organisation had forged partnerships with government, parents and communities to improve the health and wellbeing of Nigerian children. (NAN)

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