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SIDE STORY: Children and Technology PDF Print E-mail

By Esther Nalugya- UNHCO

It’s interesting how children adapt to technological advances before they are actually trained on how the technology operates. As soon as they see a smart phone, a camera, tablet, I pad or even a laptop their fingers get itchy so they navigate through it and check out the most interesting parts. I have young cousins at home who taught themselves how to record videos and also take pictures using a smart phone without any help of an adult yet usually some of the adults have phones for a while without even daring to find out how the gadgets work and their ability to do various things.

As a result of the ease to operate these gadgets, some children have accessed wrong sites and have ended up being molested, hijacked and at times killed along the way.

Without parental guidance and regulations these kids get to access sites that they should not. Such sites at times have nude photos, pornographic material which is not suitable for them. Therefore, there should be restrictions and close monitoring by parents, guardians and schools as well where children spend most of their time. This will prevent cases of cyber crime where adults sometimes prey on children using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Twoo among others.

Rural children /youth find it hard to adapt to new technologies more especially those that have not been to school. Those who attended a bit of formal education can easily play around with phones more especially if it is to send messages. In our ICT project, we send out maternal health text messages to communities where we operate. The youth are a target since it targets males and females aged 15-49. The youth are participatory and more active on the platform than the older ones. In terms of ownership the youth have the phones but they use them more for calling than educational purposes. In addition, many have been recruited on the platform and are able to raise issues in form of feedback. Through the youth, we have managed to reach older age groups  both men and women because the youth share this information with their parents who also benefit and are enrolled on the platform as well.

In conclusion, ICT is important in all its aspects but having regulations combined with close monitoring while using these gadgets is very important. This will help control cases of misuse and child abuse and at the same time benefit communities as a whole.

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