NCC warns on chat rooms, social networking sites’ risks for children

The Nigerian Communications Communication (NCC has said 97 per cent of Nigerian children are at risk of unwanted sexual approaches through online chat rooms, social networking sites and emails.

It also said that 89 per cent of the children were being sent sexual images or content.

The commission said these in a report titled ‘Study on young children and digital technology: a survey across Nigeria’ published on its website on Friday.

This study describes how children consume digital technology in Nigeria, with the respondents between the ages of four and 16 years of age.

The study also explored children’s device ownership, usage and benefits alongside their awareness of the risks and challenges.

It said, “The survey discovered that unwanted sexual approach in a chat room, social networking site or email is considered as the biggest threat online by 97 per cent of the 11-16 year-olds in Nigeria.

“This is followed closely by being sent sexual images or content at 89 per cent.”

It added, “Cyberbullying, incidentally, is not a threat rated highly by the children as only 30 per cent considers it a threat worth worrying about.

“The children also do not consider the possibility of someone taking unwanted photos of them and circulating them online as a major concern hence only 35 per cent put it forward as a threat.”

The report further disclosed that 90 per cent of the respondents had been exposed to cyber risks.

It said, “The study found that 90 per cent of 4-16 year-olds across the country has been exposed, at least once, to one or more of the rampant cyberrisks.

“This level of exposure has prompted some sector practitioners to declare that children globally are in the middle of a cyber risks pandemic.”

It also revealed that children with mobile phones were more prone to cyber risks.

“Children who own mobile phones and actively engage in social media have 70 per cent likelihood to be exposed to at least one cyber risk including cyberbullying, privacy invasion, hacking, digital misinformation, video game addiction, offline meetings and online sexual behaviours,” it revealed.

According to the report, despite the fact that several children spent a significant amount of time, most of them get little or no supervision or guidance regarding their online activities from their parents or guardians.

NCC said, “Evidently, majority of children in Nigeria receive little or no curation with their online activities from either parents or guardians.

“Most parents appear not to have rules about their children’s Internet use particularly with time limits and site restrictions.

“The survey revealed that no conversation happens between parents and 50 per cent of the 11-16 years-old children about their activities online.”

According to the report, only in the 4-10 years-old group does 76 per cent talk openly and regularly with parents about their online activities.

It added that even among the 4-10 years-old children, there was five per cent that said conversation with parents about their online activities never occurred.

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