Google seeks to keep children, young people safe online
Google has announced a number of initiatives across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, bolstering its continued efforts to keep children, young people and families safe online.
Aligning with the theme of this year’s global Safer Internet Day Together for a better Internet, Google has teamed up with several organisations across the continent to boost education efforts and develop programmes around online safety.
“With an estimated 346 million internet users that came online for the first time in the last year, and 376 million new social media users, there is no better time than the present for us to help people stay safe online,” says Michael Murungi, Public Policy & Government Relations Manager for Kenya and Eastern Africa.
“We are working with nonprofits and social enterprises to advance their work through Google.org’s Africa Online Safety Fund, while also working with educational institutions and governments across sub-Saharan Africa in order to have a greater impact.”
Administered by Impact Amplifier and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, the Africa Online Safety Fund has selected 26 social impact organisations across nine African countries to receive grants of up to $100,000 each.
This funding will be used to boost projects that work to combat online vulnerabilities, disinformation and extremism aimed at children, the youth, families, schools and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
In Kenya, the finalists selected for the $100,000 grant are ChildFund International (Kenya), who are taking an ecosystem approach, which includes national research, community, school and media-based training, and policy development to prevent online sex trafficking and Epuka Ugaidi who are building a platform to channel youth creativity (short-films, poetry and music) through workshops, training and an annual competition as a mechanism to counter-recruitment by violent extremists.
Organisations receiving up to $10,000 each are Lonamac, PAJAN Kenya, SheHacks Kenya, Sote Information & Communication Technology, and Winam Wezesha Accelerator.
Policymakers play a vital role in amplifying online safety efforts in Africa, and collaborating with them provides the scale to guarantee that more people get the resources they need.
This year, Google has placed more focus into partnerships that ensure that children remain safe while home-schooling online.
In Kenya, Google has collaborated with the Communications Authority of Kenya and the Kenya Film Classification Board to scale the online safety program for teachers, parents, and guardians through a series of webinars.
Along with other online safety stakeholders, Google will be speaking at an event to commemorate this year’s Safety Internet Day organised by the Communications Authority of Kenya and presided by the Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Mr. Joe Mucheru.
Google has also collaborated with author Nomthi Odukoya from Nigeria to create the children’s online safety book ‘How to be Safe Online’. The physical copies of the book will be distributed to 30,000 learners in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa this month.
“With more children, young people and families increasingly using the internet to learn and work in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, online safety is a priority for everyone. We look forward to continued collaboration with the Communications Authority of Kenya, the Kenya Film Classification Board, the Kenya Scouts Association, CODE-IP Trust and also with teachers, parents and guardians for a better internet,” concludes Murungi.
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