Today, 5th February 2019 is Safer Internet Day. This global event takes place in February every year. Safer Internet Day promotes a safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones especially by children and young people across the globe.
This year’s theme is “Together for a better internet”. I am particularly excited about the theme because it calls upon policymakers, parents, teachers, law enforcement, telecom operators, among others, to join hands in walking the journey of creating a better and safer internet together.
According to a 2018 GSMA report, smartphone adoption continues to see rapid growth in sub-Saharan Africa. The report said that the total number of smartphone connections stood at 250 million at the end of 2017 and would double by 2025 to reach two-thirds of all total connections.
In Ghana, three out of 10 people now own a smartphone and the country’s data subscriptions stood at over 23 million ending September 2018. The internet is a great tool that has changed the way we work and interact with our families, friends, buy and sell, learn new things and meet new people.
I’ve been in Ghana, for just over six months now and I am amazed at how the youth and young entrepreneurs are leveraging the use of the internet to not only socialize but pursue their ambition.
Children and young people adapt to new technologies quickly and easily. My 6-year-old son, when asked to write about some of the things he enjoys, easily writes about how he likes to watch his favourite cartoon on YouTube – so you can imagine how happy a parent I was when I saw the launch of the YouTube Kids app (which I’ve already downloaded!).
The reality is that more young people are becoming technology savvy than we adults. My social media evolution stalled at Instagram – which makes me ancient in many young people’s eyes.
I do believe though, that the internet remains a great tool that brings us fantastic opportunities but also poses some challenges, for our children and young people. Cyberbullying, cyber-crime and access to age-inappropriate content are some of the dangers that our young people are exposed to.
To create a better internet, the ‘Safer Internet Day’ offers us stakeholders in the ICT industry an opportunity to join forces to address any negative experience young people may face online. No telecom operator, non-governmental organization or ministry can create a better internet on their own and thus this year’s Safer Internet Day calls for collaboration among us all.
During this February, we at AirtelTigo will use our social media platforms to raise awareness on safe internet practices, because as a responsible telecom operator, we have an enormous responsibility to ensure young people’s safety on the internet. We will lend our voice to the cause.
I would like to see us protect the next generation of creators who will develop new solutions for our critical problems. We all have a role to play. Let’s collaborate to protect our young people online.
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