As founder of MediaNetWorks, an advocacy and capacity building organization, I have been holding presentations and seminars about Internet safety in local schools, churches, and events organized for children. Some events of seven years ago remain vividly clear. While giving a workshop on Internet Safety to teens at a local Church in Ngong (Nairobi), two boys approached me seeking help on how to deal with Internet pornography addiction. During the event, the majority of children innocently confessed they chat online with people they do not know and would be happy to meet them face to face. “They are just social media friends, we discuss anything with them because they are available even though we have not met,” some of them confessed to me, not knowing what dangers they exposed themselves to with the so-called online friends.
To address this emerging problem in Kenya, MediaNet Works, in partnership with Koinonia Community (a child protection nonprofit organization) and in collaboration with the Internet Society Kenya Chapter, is working to implement an Internet safety project for children entitled “Safe Online, Safe Onland”. The project it is supported by the Internet Society Beyond the Net Funding Programme and it will benefit over 700 former street children living and schooling in Koinonia Community’s rehabilitation children centers.
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The project will provide an opportunity for children to learn new life skills on how to use the Internet effectively for their personal, intellectual, and spiritual development. Children rescued from difficult circumstances will benefit from the project’s activities and information on how to use the Internet responsibly and positively.
Ten local journalists, 10 teachers, 5 social workers and 10 children will be trained on how to deliver Internet safety programs and help establish Internet safety clubs in schools. To ensure this initiative leaves an indelible mark in the society, the project will build the capacity of the local community to ensuring local ownership, sustainability, and continuity of this initiative beyond the project period.