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Understanding African Children’s Use of Information and Communication Technologies

Posted on Feb 5, 2013

Understanding African children's use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is a youth-led study conducted by ECPAT International in Cameroon, Gambia, Kenya, Togo and Uganda to provide insight into how children in Africa are using ICTs and the risks this poses. Children in Africa are increasingly using the Internet and ICT tools at home, schools and public spaces, but receive poor guidance to ensure their safety online. The understanding of parents, teachers and cybercafe operators regarding the risks and harms that can be caused, particularly in relation to sexual exploitation, is rather basic and insufficient to effectively protect children. Studies to assess children's vulnerabilities and the risks arising from their online presence – particularly their increasing familiarity with social networking sites (Facebook, Mxit etc.), file sharing and downloads – are rare. The fact that the reach and number of ICTs are continuing to increase and develop poses further challenges, particularly in the African context, where there is no historical knowledge or mechanisms to understand emerging risks and develop counteractions. A significant gap is the lack of indication about the numbers and the specific groups of children who may have been victimised or are at-risk of receiving sexual solicitations, luring by traffickers for sexual purposes, being exposed to depictions of sexual violence and child pornography, not to mention the extent to which African children are represented in the global child abuse image transactions. This newly published ECPAT International research project seeks to address gaps in knowledge to assist in the design of suitable interventions and to alert policy makers and relevant private sector actors of the need to commit resources and develop plans to ensure the full protection of children. Although this report is not designed to provide accurate numbers pertaining to the above, it does shed light on the trends and patterns of ICT use by children and offers an insight into vulnerabilities which children face. Read the full report here:             Part 1               Part 2