“Zvipoko zvepa internet”: Celebrating Safer Internet Day
In commemoration of Safer Internet Day Impact Hub Harare joined Tech Women Zimbabwe and Facebook to celebrate and generate widespread awareness of internet safety for young internet users.
Tech Women Zimbabwe in a joint effort with Facebook hosted a one day programme at Chitsere Primary School in Harare. The one day event addressed key internet safety issues that young internet users face today. Internet users were encouraged to take precautions in order to keep themselves protected from ongoing cyber-crimes and criminals described as “zvipoko zvepa internet” (internet ghosts/ghost profiles) by one of the panelists.
A panel of key tech experts identified and discussed the crucial risks and challenges that young internet users may encounter as the World Wide Web continues to expand exponentially.
Vulnerable young internet users had an opportunity to engage the panel and probe into issues that they had personally experienced and how they can protect themselves. The young crowd was inquisitive and asked questions high level techies would formulate which left the presenters dumbfounded.
The concerns addressed ranged from cyber bullying and illegal distribution of explicit content to legal justice correspondence and child monitoring. Parents, guardians, and teachers were encouraged to take safety precautions such as site blocking in order to ensure the safety of susceptible young internet operators. Children likewise were driven to conduct research and make each other aware of the dangers lurking on the web.
Although most of the risks and challenges remain digitally orientated there is a significant risk of physical, mental and emotional repercussions. These included anti-social behaviour, obesity, indolence and mood swings. Such challenges can easily be addressed through physical activity and social engagement.
Emilar Ghandi, a public policy advisor from Facebook South Africa, presented some of the regulatory measures Facebook had established to ensure public safety. These ranged from operators regulatory policy and law enforcement correspondence to helpline availability and feedback reporting.
Ms. Ghandi made a call to ICT institutions such as POTRAZ to introduce highly restrictive measures and make the public aware that information disclosed on the internet is permanently available–“the internet never forgets”. Some of the risk categories outlined included:
- Spams; and
- Aspersive social networking
Due to a less developed cyber structure in comparison to technologically advanced nations, Zimbabwe faces challenges in bringing cyber criminals to justice. However, many highly qualified tech experts exist in our society today. As such, a nationwide call was made to the public to lobby and join the state in combating cyber-crime to ensure child safety.