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Google SA to launch online child safety initiative

Google South Africa will announce on Friday the launch of a local child safety initiative. The search giant says that it and its partners will create a safe cyberspace for children to engage with technology as well as empower parents and guardians with tools to help them choose what content their children see online.

Partners include the South African Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD), the Department of Communications, the Film and Publications Board (FPB), youth-based social network Mxit, Childline South Africa and UNICEF.

Google says that Friday’s launch is the first step in an ongoing online child safety campaign. And that in order for children to be able to continue enjoying the opportunities offered by the cyber-world, parents, teachers, caregivers and guardians must work together with children to educate them on how to navigate the internet safely. It cites sexual exploitation, cyberbullying and exposure to inappropriate content as some of the main dangers children can encounter online.

“With this campaign we will focus on empowering parents to help them choose what content their children see online. This will include protecting children online by using relevant child messaging systems; educating children on how to stay safe online and creating partnerships amongst concerned stakeholders on child protection,” said Luke McKend, Google SA Country manager.

The online safety campaign will be launched on Friday morning in Johannesburg. Other partners involved and presenting at the event include: Media Monitoring Africa, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Parent’s Corner. Lulu Xingwana, the minister for women, children and people with disabilities will deliver the keynote. More details to follow on Friday.

Author | Vanessa Clark

Vanessa Clark
Vanessa is a freelance journalist and copywriter based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s been writing about technology since the last century, mostly looking at people, businesses and technology coming together to make something useful and interesting happen. When she’s not deciphering tech-speak, she’s probably running on a mountain... More
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  • As an online marketer, I run searches all the time covering most aspects and types of search. The sexual content available on the web and the violent imaging which is accessible, quite freely, even in countries where it is banned has left much to choice. I am so grateful that this introduction of educating parents on web control has finally been introduced as a feature of Google’s operation. However …

    As in everything, the extent to which parents can ‘control’ which device children use to access the internet and from which location needs to be looked at in depth and realistically.

    What I would like to see being developed, are different search sections which seperate adult and open accessibility. I would also like to see Google develop the restricted access feature which will disable access to porn and other adult content where there are laws which outlaw pornography. While the freedom of choice is an internationaly sought after human right, some rights, especially where the rights of children are affected, need to be limited and even entirely removed.

    This is a great initiative which will educate parents, but I maintain a stance which says that we need to go back to basics and start teaching our children the values of self respect, the consequences of sex and how it can destroy lives (as opposed to being the beautiful thing of which it seems we have lost touch).

    The world spends more and more time getting ahead. We have less time with our children, so we need to plan the quality of nurtyring we put into the little time we have with them.

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