By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor
Cyber Attack: Parents in Nigeria are facing a fresh burden in bringing up their children due to the new methods cybercriminals now adopt in getting useful information from their targets. The criminals have left the conventional methods of stealing information to a more sophisticated way of having people, particularly youths and minors, releasing useful information, willingly.
Instead of creeping into email accounts sourcing for information, they have devised means of posing as notable society icons and idols and faking popular dating sites where unsuspecting victims will freely release valuable information.
In 2019, about 9000 Nigerians were hit with malicious malware from attackers who posed as popular music icon that was nominated for Grammy awards in the United States of America.
Also, just before the February 14, 2020 valentine’s day, about four percent of the 7, 700 victims of dating sites scam in Africa, were Nigerians.
Considering that 80 percent of these victims are youths of adolescent ages, a fresh challenge is placed on parents to monitor the activities of their wards.
A few parents who spoke to Hi-Tech said parenting in the 21st century is becoming problematic because of technological developments and proliferation of social media sites promoting wrong ideals.
In fact, a parent, Mr Fredrick Eluwa said: “Before now, I used to think that exposing my children early to technology will expand their knowledge and make them stand tall in the society. I acquired all manner of gadgets for them, but what I now see is these things are exposing them to wrong ideals that are contrary to our culture. I would not advise anybody to let kids go online” he added.
However, the National Orientation Agency, NOA says this is not the time for parents to whine and whimper but to upgrade their digital knowledge so as to be on the same page with their children.
Director, Special duties, at the agency, Mrs Mette Edekobi, said in this internet age, parents should strive to know as much as their children know, so they will be able to checkmate the activities of the kids.
Edekobi who spoke at this year’s Safer Internet day in Abuja, said: “Parents should stop believing that the best method to bring up their children is the way they were brought up. These are different times and these children are products of their environment. Instead of getting angry at the way the children are living in the digital era, parents should acquaint themselves with digital knowledge.
“This is the time parents and children should be on the same page. This time should be for both the children and the parents alike. You can’t give what you don’t have. So if you don’t know about social media or other aspects of the internet world, you would never be able to properly navigate the world of these children”.
Meanwhile, Google has announced a landmark child online safety programme, “Be Internet Awesome” which ensures that kids grow smart, alert and cautious of activities that can put them in harm’s way.
The initiative was announced at the Safer internet day; an annual celebration created by Google to showcase ideas and activities aimed at helping kids to be safe, confident explorers of the online world.
Policy & Government Relations Manager, Google Nigeria, Seember Nyager said: “To make the most of the Internet, kids need to be prepared to make smart decisions. Be Internet Awesome teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence”.
Google also put together some practical guides, tagged the internet code of awesome, to help kids navigate safely online. The codes include:
To be internet smart:
To be internet smart is to communicate responsibly. Good and bad news travel fast online, and without some forethought, kids can find themselves in tricky situations that have lasting consequences.
So they need to learn how to share information with those they know and those they don’t.
Google’s position is that thoughtful sharing is treating online communication like face-to-face communication; if it isn’t right to say, it isn’t right to post.
They should be made to know what kind of communication is appropriate and to always keep personal details about family and friends private.
Be internet alert:
This means being alert to the antics of scammers, so as not to fall prey.
It’s important to help kids know the Signs of a Potential Scam, become aware that people and situations online aren’t always as they seem. Discerning between what’s real and what’s fake is a very real lesson in online safety.
Google’s position to this code is that kids should know that if statements about “winning” or getting something for “free” feel too good to be true, they most likely are fake.
They should also know that fair exchanges shouldn’t involve giving away any personal information.
They should always think critically before acting online and learn to trust their intuition.
Be internet strong
This code deals with users knowing how to secure their Secrets
Personal privacy and security are just as important online as they are offline. Safeguarding valuable information helps kids avoid damaging their devices, reputations, and relationships.
Google’s advise is that users, particularly kids, should learn how to create strong passwords, make them memorable, but avoiding the use of personal information like names or birthdays.
Another tip is to avoid using same password on multiple sites, even as they can create a few different variations of the same password for different accounts.
Be internet kind
The Internet is a powerful amplifier that can be used to spread positivity or negativity. The code says kids can take the high road by applying the concept of “treat others as you would like to be treated” to their actions online, creating positive impact for others and disempowering bullying behaviour, set an example and use the power of the Internet to spread positivity.
The code forbids children from spreading of harmful or untrue messages but respect others’ differences.
The code also advises parents to take decisive actions by encouraging their wards to block people with mean-spirited or inappropriate behaviour online; make an effort to provide support to those being bullied and encourage them to speak up against and report online bullying.
Be internet brave
To be internet brave means to talk out when in doubt. When children come across something questionable, they should feel comfortable talking to a trusted adult and, adults can support this behaviour by fostering open communication at home and in the classroom.
Head of brand & reputation, Google Africa, Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde said Google’s commitment to safer internet for Nigerian children will only continue to grow as efforts to also equip them to compete with their foreign counterparts also grows.