KFCB Unveils Program to Empower Caregivers with Digital Parenting Skills
The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) in collaboration with Netflix, Google, Tik Tok and other stakeholders has, today, Tuesday 7th February 2023, unveiled a Parents’ Digital Literacy Programme (PaDiL) that is geared towards empowering parents and caregivers with the requisite skills to guide children on safe and responsible use of digital platforms and creative spaces.
The Program also seeks to create awareness on the effects of media content and emerging technologies on children.
Speaking during the PaDiL launch at the Sarova Stanley hotel, Principal Secretary, State Department for Youth Affairs and the Arts, Mr. Ismail Maalim Madey, applauded Netflix and other partners for collaborating with KFCB in the PaDiL initiative.
The PS further lauded the partners for their continued collaboration with the Government of Kenya, through various state agencies, in driving the child online protection agenda, and ensuring a balance between business and the safety of children in the digital space.
“This is indeed a welcome initiative, given that Kenya’s level of broadband penetration is among the highest in Africa. As a result, the use of ICTs, including social media, has become pervasive across the country, especially among the youth and children. I am pleased to note that this launch has been organized to coincide with Kenya’s 10th commemoration of Safer Internet Day under the theme: ‘Together for a safer internet,” the PS noted.
PS Madey said that the Government holds protection of children as one of its top priorities as enshrined in Article 53 of the Constitution that recognizes the right of all children to be protected from among others abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, all forms of violence, and inhumane treatment, adding that Kenya is a signatory to various international conventions that advocate for the protection of children in diverse aspects, including exposure to harmful content.
“The Government’s continued implementation of the Children’s Act is a true testament to our commitment towards ensuring the welfare of children,” the PS added.
While recognizing the positive role of the internet and the opportunities it provides, the PS noted that the internet also pose challenges for children. “Research has shown that access to internet among children results in better learning outcomes. At a macro level, access to high-capacity or broadband internet has been found to drive economic development and in turn lead to improved living standards of citizens, including children. The resource also offers immense opportunities for entertainment and communication among the youth,” he stated
The PS noted that left to their own devices, children could easily fall prey to the dangers and risks that lurk on the internet such as exposure to pornographic materials to grooming and unwanted contact with pedophiles, among other risks. “A recent study among children aged between 13 and 19 revealed that 66% of the respondents were using internet (78% male and 22% female). It was further noted that children spent more than 20% of their time online accessing inappropriate content and connecting with strangers,” the PS revealed.
To promote online safety for children, PS Madey noted the need for parents to be assisted to appreciate and deal with the realities of the digital age. On this, the PS lauded KFCB for joining hands with the digital platform operators to equip parents and caregivers with the requisite skills and knowledge to guide children on online safety.
The PS urged partners to collaborate in ensuring that parents/caregivers and guardians are empowered to supplement the Government’s efforts aimed at promoting consumer protection and thus looking out for the future generations.
“I am pleased to note that in May 2022, the Government of Kenya, through the then Ministry of ICT, Innovation & Youth Affairs signed a two-year Memorandum of Understanding with Netflix. The two partners undertook to jointly deliver efforts to strengthen Kenya's creative industry and support the development of the next generation of storytellers. As part of the agreement, Netflix committed to collaborate with the Kenya Film Classification Board to promote responsible digital parenting and appropriate viewing practices for consumers of online content,” the PS stated.
He added, “As we champion child online safety, it is important to note that parents and caregivers bear the greatest responsibility of ensuring that children under their care are not exposed to the myriad dangers that lurk online, including age-inappropriate content. In this regard, parents and guardians should be more involved in monitoring the content and material that their children consume on various platforms including the internet.”
The PS reiterated the Government’s commitment to guaranteeing child the online safety through formulation and implementation of various policies and frameworks.
“Besides ensuring child online safety, I urge parents/caregivers to take a keen interest in their children’s unique skills and talents. The internet indeed presents opportunities to nurture those talents. Unlike other regions of the world, internet users in the African region, including Kenya, use the internet and social media platforms more as a tool of entertainment rather than a lever for improving their socio-economic status. We need to re-orient the thinking of the youth to seize these opportunities early enough,” he stated.
The PS noted that creative economy is one of the key drivers of the economy globally observing that the Kenyan film industry directly employed 129,824 people in 2019, or about 4.5% of the country’s total employed workforce and contributed an estimated Ksh14.07 billion to the country’s GDP.
To spur the development of the creative economy through an enabling legal framework, the PS said the Government has embarked on the development of the creative economy Policy and Bill. Once enacted, he said the two instruments will go a long way in enabling the film sector regulator and market development and promotion entities to put the requisite interventions in place to catalyze the growth of this strategic sector of the economy.
In his remarks, the KFCB Ag. CEO, Christopher Wambua, noted that parents and caregivers are critical points of contact for children and hence the need to arm them with skills that they can use to help the young ones under the care to navigate the digital space safely.
“It is gratifying to note that all our partners in this programme, have either instituted parental control mechanisms on their respective platforms or created safe online spaces for children. These solutions play a critical role in ensuring that children at various stages of development are protected against access to inappropriate material online. More specifically, Google, through the YouTube Kids, for instance, offers family friendly content along with parental controls that can set time limits on apps and turn off search functionality. TikTok, on the other hand, has a series of safety features and functionalities meant to protect young users on the platform. Users under the age of 13 can, for instance, watch videos without interacting with strangers through the comment page,” Mr. Wambua noted.
While noting that Art is a powerful tool that shapes character and builds values, Mr. Wambua said that research has revealed that children who grow up exposed to violent content are more likely to mature into violent adults.
As the Government agency mandated by law to examine and classify film audio-visual content for age-appropriateness as well as to give consumer advice on responsible content consumption, the Ag. CEO said KFCB has continued to address the afore-cited gaps through diverse initiatives in line with the emerging trends/issues.
“The programme we are launching today is part of our initiatives geared towards protecting children from exposure to inappropriate audio-visual content. Through this collaborative programme, it our intention to address gaps such as limited knowledge on the effects of media content consumption among parents, caregivers, and guardians as well as inadequate knowledge on the available media distribution platforms.
The Ag CEO added that the PaDiL program is designed to address lack of knowledge on standards of media content, content classification and its rationale as well deal with the challenge of limited awareness on the availability of safety tools on Video on Demand (VODs) and Over the Top (OTT) audio-visual platforms, among other knowledge gaps,” the Ag. CEO stated.
In partnership with other stakeholders, Mr. Wambua said KFCB will enhance consumer awareness among its diverse stakeholders, especially parents/caregivers on matters of digital content consumption and child online safety, besides executing its core mandate.
Mr Wambua commended all the partners in the PaDiL program and reiterated the Board’s commitment to working with like-minded partners on initiatives geared towards protecting children from exposure to inappropriate content.
Fatuma Kanteh, 16, who represented children at the event reiterated that indeed children are exposed to inappropriate content, especially through the internet and need to be guided accordingly. She cautioned her peers against interacting with strangers online.
Other partners present during the launch were representatives from the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), Akili Kids, Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Viusasa, Child Help Line Kenya, Kenya Private Schools Association, Kenya Scouts Association, KICTANET, Communication Authority of Kenya, Kenya Parents Association (KPA), African Centre for Women in Information and Communication Technology (ACWICT), Kenya Film Commission (KFC), Psychological Support Centre, Child Fund, Mtoto News, parents, among other public and private sector agencies and individuals.