Kenya: Children Increasingly Exposed to Predators, Cultic Groups While Learning Online – Study

Nairobi — At least 6 per cent of children with access to the internet have shared their naked images with other internet users mostly predators, a new study has shown.

According to the report published by the Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes on Thursday, six per cent of children reached in the study confirmed having shared images or videos within the past one year.

A further 14 per cent of the children confirmed meeting someone face-to-face after first encountering them online in the past year.

“While such images are most frequently shared voluntarily among peers and close friends, seven children had shared naked images as a result of threats and six said they were pressured by their friends,” the report funded End Violence Against Children, a public-private collaboration including governments, UN agencies, research institutions and international NGOs.

The report that assessed 1,014 internet-using further indicated that two-thirds of internet-using children have not been taught about how to stay safe online.

It also pointed out to an increasing risk among children exposed to the internet through web-based learning platforms.

“In a world that is increasingly shaped by rapid evolution and adoption of digital technologies, the internet is a tool for children to engage in a very empowering way, but it is also a double-edged sword hence a strategy is required for proper use of internet for good and same time be aware of the dangers the internet poses,” Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia stated while commenting on the ministry’s findings.

The report listed blackmail, hacking, cybercrime, drugs abuse, kidnapping and joining cults among risks facing children on online platforms.

The report noted an increase in the number of children available online with the introduction of web-based learning following the outbreak of COVID-19 cited as a major contributor to the trend.

According the report, learners were often exposed to other online platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, snapchat, TikTok which are the most popular among the youth.

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