Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Computer usage by our children in our primary and secondary schools has become commonplace. Computers have also become familiar in private and public libraries. Nurseries have not been left behind either, albeit only a few upscale ones provide computer instruction to toddlers.

Introducing this technology to our children at an early age is recommended because their adult lives will be synonymous with technology.

In the near future access to the internet will become cheaper in Kenya. This will enable most schools to provide full time broadband access to their students at a subsidized rate. This access will mean our children will have access to all shades of digital material.

Time is nigh for us, as a society, to develop an internet safety policy that will ensure educational institutions and libraries have technology protection measures. These measures must be tied to government funding or licensing.

Waiting for legislators to introduce this initiative would be akin to waiting for Godot. Educational institutions should also not be left with the sole responsibility of implementing safety measures. Parents should be ready to develop and enforce this policy as an additional component of sound parenting.

An internet safety policy, that specifically targets schools and libraries, should include measures that block or filter internet access to pictures that are obscene or harmful to minors and teenagers.

These institutions must prove compliance by educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including cyber bullying awareness and response and interaction with online individuals on social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace.

Educational institutions should also be required to restrict minors’ access to materials harmful to them. They should limit unauthorized access, including hacking and other unlawful activities by minors online.

There are software tools out there that can enforce these measures. These tools offer complete protection from internal and external threats for instant illegal P2P file sharing, data leakage, data loss and more.

Schools can be able to implement software that offers content monitoring and complete visibility into individual users, allowing them to protect minors and students while securing the institution from issues of legal liability.

The computer and the internet have become rapidly growing tools that enable children and adults to instantly access information and resources. It is also a powerful communication medium. It is our duty, as parents, to ask whether the schools our children attend have implemented basic computer and internet safeguards.

Not to be forgotten is the role of parents at home. It is common for parents to assume that rules are being adhered to when in actual fact they are not. There is also an assumption that rules are not needed when they are.

Rules and regulations in educational institutions should be in tandem with the ones at home. We cannot afford to be lax on this issue of protecting our children from the dangers of the computer and the internet.

Parents must learn to protect their children from the array of undesirable digital content both at school and home.

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