The Director General of Cyber Security Authority (CSA), Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako indicates that, children these days are susceptible to internet threats such as cyberbullying, cyberstalking, online child sexual exploitation materials, phishing attacks, and sexting, which are human rights concerns online.

The internet he stated, has presented an unparalleled opportunity for children and young people to communicate, connect, learn, and access information from various parts of the world however, it comes with new challenges to security.

“Although increasing access to the internet has presented an unparalleled opportunity for children and young people to communicate, connect, learn, and access information from various parts of the world, it does come with new challenges to security.

Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako announced this during the launch of the National Cybersecurity Challenge (NCC) in Accra.

The objectives of the Cybersecurity Challenge according to Dr. Antwi-Boasiako, are primarily to enhance awareness of cybersecurity best practices for students to address the growing concern of the vulnerability of students online, equip them with the skills to interact with digital technology confidently, safely, and responsibly, be peer advocates for safe online practices, and direct students to cybersecurity career paths.

He emphasized that, statistic indicates that 55.90% of students admitted to interacting with strangers they met online, highlighting the potential dangers of online meetings.

Dr. Albert Boasiako argued that, based on the survey findings, it was discovered that 20 per cent (2 out of 10) of children engaged in the practice of taking pictures of themselves and sharing them with their close friends. “Disturbingly, these images are later exploited as a means of blackmail against the children”.

He noted that, the internet is a critical tool for communication and education in today’s world but said, any activity that seeks to undermine freedom online negatively is against human rights.

“Some feedback from students during this year’s Africa safer internet day suggests that our awareness creation efforts are late because they have already been victims of different forms of online abuse and exploitation. We need to increase efforts and quicken our steps in awareness creation”.

Ghana he mentioned, is committed to working with stakeholders to embark on some major policy initiatives geared towards child online protection.

“Ongoing is the development of a Legislative Instrument to support the implementation of the Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038), which UNICEF and other partners are greatly involved. The development of the National Child Online Protection (COP) Framework, currently before Cabinet, and the development of Guidelines to support child online protection initiatives, the annual Africa Safer Internet Day (ASID) in February, among others”.

He said over the last ten years, children and young adults have consistently been the two groups found most likely to go online and that, according to Statista, a global research platform, as of January 2024, an estimated 24.06 million Ghanaians were connected to the internet, with 7.60 million active on social media.

“Currently, Ghana is ranked eighth globally on daily time spent on social media with online child sexual exploitation and abuse among the top ten cybercrimes in the world, and this figure is expected to increase in the coming years if attention is not given to child online safety”.

The launch of the 2024 edition of the National Cybersecurity Challenge (NCC), marks the third milestone of an event that has imparted knowledge to thousands of school children across the country.

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