Photograph — Flickr

In line with its commitment to supporting innovative ideas around privacy, safety, and security in sub-Saharan Africa, Google has launched a $1 million pan African fund with the intention of developing further programs that aim to safeguard and support children on the usage of the internet.

Aligning with the 16th Annual Safer Internet Day call to action; Together for a better Internet, the initiative was designed to empower organizations and provide a safe internet for children. This will help to address internet safety and security concerns such as cyberbullying and cybercrime.  

“Google is committed to a safe internet for children,” said Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, Head of Brand and Reputation at Google Africa. “We are also passionate about the empowerment of organizations that share this commitment.”

The newly set up fund will be administered by a third-party partner on behalf of Google.org, the executive explained, while further details on application criteria and deadlines would be shared by the company soon.

Furthermore, Head of public policy and government relations at Google Africa, Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, said Google is excited in strengthening its commitment to helping children and parents in the field of online safety, particularly South Africa.

“In addition to Family Link, which allows parents to help their families develop healthy digital habits, we also launched Password Checkup, exactly one year ago, to empower users to check and strengthen online security settings for their Google Accounts,” he said.

Another initiative, Be Internet Awesome, teaches kids important skills for surfing the internet, like how to recognize potential online scams, using the internet securely and safeguarding valuable information, how to identify and refrain from cyberbullying, as well as what to do when coming across questionable content on the internet.

“Children are being exposed to the internet at their most vulnerable age so it’s important for us, at Google, to ensure that they do so as safely as possible. At the same time, teachers and parents can use these resources in order to support and guide children as they navigate the Web,” added Mgwili-Sibanda.

In 2019, Google Africa, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) and other stakeholders devised a digital literacy program called Web Rangers in South Africa, to let young people gain critical skills and knowledge about online safety. The program encourages young digital citizens to use the internet responsibly.

The initiative is a website designed by MMA to help children make informed decisions online to protect themselves, such as not revealing one’s full name, address, phone number or school name on social media networks. If all these can be continuously monitored, it would help mitigate the risks that children are exposed to when using the internet, particularly social media.

By Ahmed Iyanda.

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