The internet has provided children with new and innovative ways to learn, develop their skills, communicate efficiently interact socially and entertain themselves. According to a UNICEF estimate by Livingstone, Carr, and Byrne 2015, one third of internet users globally are children, with the proportion of internet users likely to be higher in lower income countries where the internet is rapidly penetrating all spheres of public life. The proliferation of internet access points, mobile technology and the exponential growth of internet-enabled devices combined with the vast resources to be found in cyberspace –provide unparalleled opportunities for children and young people to communicate, connect, share, learn, access information and express their opinions on matters that affect their lives and their communities.
As confirmed by a national study on child online practices in Ghana through a report commissioned by UNICEF in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, nearly 70% of children use the internet for learning and yet too little is done to protect them. The impact of the internet on the lives of children is a significant concern globally, both in terms of opportunities it provides as well as its potential to put children at risk. Children are more vulnerable in the cyberspace. The dangers confronting them include online abuse in all its forms; cyber bullying, child pornography, sexual exploitation, cyber stalking, access to inappropriate content, gambling for children and a network for child-sex tourism and trafficking and overuse of the internet. This is corroborated by evidence from the children’s online practices research as indicated below.
To step up national effort aimed at promoting a Safer Digital Ghana, Children have been identified as one of the key targets for the Safer Digital Ghana national awareness campaign. Consequently, Child Online Protection (COP) is a key component of the campaign. The objective of the COP pillar of the Safer Digital Ghana campaign is to create awareness on basic cybersecurity issues related to children and young people, identify the risks and opportunities associated with use of the internet and promote hygienic and safe cyber practices among children. It is expected that by the end of the campaign in 2024, children in Ghana would have increased knowledge and understanding on basic cybersecurity skills and will be able to use the internet in a safe and responsible manner.