The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) launched the State of the Internet in Kenya 2016 report on 28 November 2016. The report was launched under the iFreedoms Kenya project, which promotes human rights and media rights online in Kenya. The report which is the second such report to be launched by BAKE maps out the internet landscape in Kenya. It also documents significant events that have taken place in the last one year.
Kenya’s mobile penetration has increased from 89.2 per cent to 90 per cent according to a report by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). The report says that the continued growth in mobile subscriptions has been driven by proliferation of mobile data services such as m-commerce and m-banking services as well as handset affordability. According to the Consumer Barometer survey by Google, the percentage of people who use a smartphone to access the Internet in Kenya has increased from 27 per cent in 2014 to 44 per cent in 2016.
Children have always been vulnerable to victimization; most recently this has moved to the online space. Harassment is a particular challenge when minors are targeted. Minors are vulnerable when using the numerous communication tools such as messaging, chat-rooms, or social networks. Children can easily become victims of cyberbullying, most often from their peers using ICT – combining mobile phone cameras, file-sharing systems, and social networks – as a convenient tool.
Harmful conduct targeting minors can be particularly dangerous when conducted by adults. The masked identity is one of the most frequent approaches undertaken by paedophiles on the Internet – while pretending to be peers, these online predators collect information and steadily groom the child, easily managing to win the child’s trust, even aiming to establish a physical meeting. Incidences can go as far as the abuse and exploitation of children, paedophilia, the solicitation of minors for sexual purposes, and even child trafficking.
While the law recognizes the right of a child to access information and gives a child the right to privacy, children are unable to define boundaries hence the need for better, robust protection by parents and society in general.
The major challenge that educators and parents are facing in protecting children online is the fact that the ‘digital natives’ are much more knowledgeable in how to use ICT – they know more than their parents, yet they understand less. Close cooperation between peers – parents, educators, and the community – is most important for developing initiatives for safeguarding children in computer-mediated environments.
On a longer time scale, educational curriculum updates are also needed, to include in-school programmes on Internet safety issues such as protecting personal privacy and security, minding personal reputations and those of others, ethics, reporting abuse, transferring real-life morals and skills to the online world.
You can find the report on the iFreedoms Kenya website ifree.co.ke/reports.
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