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The Internet is increasingly becoming a significant tool for social, economic, and human rights development in Uganda. Internet usage in Uganda continues to grow, with an estimated 18 million internet users nationwide (40% of the population). Although it is hard to determine what percentage of children aged between 13-18 years are internet users, the Uganda government is making striding efforts to ensure internet access in all schools in the country.

 

There has been a drastic increase in the number of school teachers as well as the number of students taking up Computer Studies as a subject at Ordinary level from 1,400 to 18,000. Further, more than 1,000 schools have implemented Information Technology labs across the country. With such initiatives in place, it is certain that the number of young people connecting online is on the rise in Uganda especially with the increased popularity of social media tools like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Facebook penetration in Uganda estimated at 3.6%, with 66.5% male and 33.5% female using the platform. However, there is little or no documented evidence of the online behavior of young children in Uganda. Further, it emerged that there is an urgent need to create awareness among young children on the dangers of the internet in Uganda.

 

Internet use is evolving in many ways and thus enabling different users especially children and youth who connect mainly for online gaming, schoolwork assignment, and social networking. A study by Uganda Communication Commission in collaboration with Internet Society Uganda chapter shows that children in Uganda use 30% of the internet for Chatting with friends, 22% for watching/downloading movies, 16% for Playing video games, and 31% for Homework-related research. However, as these children use the internet, they face serious risks, such as online predators, cyberbullying, and consequences from revealing too much personal information.

 

Furthermore, the biggest challenges on the internet reported by children were cyberstalking (33%), cyberbullying (20%), and harassment (11%), with no mention at all of the issues such as pornography, child pornography, with only a small mention of online abusing. A crucial part of keeping children safer online there is by teaching them about online risks and how to make responsible decisions. I am working towards promoting Child Online Safety in Uganda. I am developing an Online Safety Education Kit (E-Safety Education Toolkit for Young People in Uganda) to raise awareness about cybersecurity risks management in Uganda. It sensitizes young people on how to deal with cyberbullying, to think before posting to avoid revealing too much information about themselves, create strong passwords to secure and keep the information on their devices and online accounts safe, report unwanted sexual request to the school, parents or trusted adults prevent online victimization and promote online safety pledges that outline clear simple guidelines for safer Internet use.

 

I’m engaging primary and secondary schools, children, and child online experts to educate, and empower them on child online safety in Uganda. Children between the age of 5 and 20 years make up a very vulnerable percentage of internet users. They should recognize online potential risks, prevent themselves from being exploited online, report victimization to trusted adults, and support community online safety education efforts.

 

Children should be taught how to adopt healthy online practices. They should not post any personal information online like your address, email address, or mobile number, they should think carefully before posting pictures or videos of themselves, keep privacy settings as high as possible and never give out their passwords. They avoid being befriended by people they don’t know and not meet up with people they’ve met online. Speak to their parents or a trusted adult if they see something online that makes them feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried

 

This community project adopts open leadership best practices. We are Organizing community events to bring more and new contributors to the project and connect them with each other, gather them, together-in person, if possible. These events will happen in virtual, online spaces with the possibility of face-to-face.

 

We ensure that the local community has a real stake as project contributors. This ensures the long-term sustainability of the project. We also document the E-Safety Education toolkit and ideas clearly and thoroughly to ensure the reuse of the project content. Local participation of contributors is important to achieving our goals. Online child safety experts, child education stakeholders, and technologists designing online platforms that will be used by children in Uganda are invited to share collaboration ideas for an impactful project.

 

A healthy internet is private and secure. Users should always have the power to decide what information they share and with whom they share and to safeguard themselves and their information against attacks. Protecting children online is a global challenge, and it is a collective responsibility. They are at a vulnerable stage in their lives and need to understand the basic principles of internet health with regard to privacy and security. Communities should focus on creating a better internet by promoting safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile devices especially among children and young people.

 

You can get involved by helping us publicize the program to impact a wider community across the globe or in terms of content resources on child online safety, materially to fund the project and expertise: 

 

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REFERENCES

1. Internet health Report 2019 (How healthy is the internet?) Available at:

https://internethealthreport.org/2019/ [Accessed: 10 th , March 2020].

2. Open leadership Framework https://mozilla.github.io/open-

leadershipframework/framework/#what-is-open-leadership [Accessed: 11 th March 2020]

3. Uganda Communication Commission (Child online Protection Case for Uganda) Available at:

https://bit.ly/34w3KjL [Accessed: 10 th April 2020]

 

4. National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) Why should we care for a

better Internet Available at: https://www.nita.go.ug/media/why-you-should-care-better-internet

[Accessed: 9 th April 2020]

5. Alison G, Onkokame M, Ndiwalana A, Tushunira T. [2019] “The state of ICT in Uganda”

research ICT Africa.

6. The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) [2016]

“State of Internet Freedom in Uganda” CIPESA

7. Internet Society uganda Chapter (Cyber Security) available at https://isoc.ug/index.php/cyber-

security/ [Accessed on: 10th April 20120]