Parents urged to take lead role in protecting minors from inappropriate content
The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) has urged parents and caregivers to take the lead role in monitoring content that children under their care access on social media networks, broadcast channels and other platforms and guide them accordingly. Speaking on Sunday 28th May 2023, during a Parents Digital Literacy (PaDiL) sensitization forum, held at the Deliverance Church in Nakuru County, the Board’s Chairperson John Njogu Njoroge, said that protecting children from exposure to inappropriate content is a collective responsibility that cannot be left to the Government alone. Njogu called upon parents, caregivers, opinion leaders, and members of the public be proactive and complement the Government’s role, by monitoring the content that children consume and guide them accordingly. While noting that the internet has become an integral part of life, with a lot of opportunities and benefits, the Board’s Chair noted that the internet has also created new risks and challenges, particularly for minors.
“With the increasing use of social media, online gaming, and other digital platforms, children are more exposed than ever to cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and online predators, it is for this reason, among others, that the Board in collaboration with Netflix, Google, TikTok, and other key partners is implementing the PadiL program,” he said. Njogu said that the KFCB will continue to advocate for formulation of policies and guidelines that promote safe and responsible online behavior. “As the Board mandated by law to examine audio-visual content for age-appropriateness, we commit to continue forging strategic partnerships to ensure that we achieve our objectives of empowering the parents and caregivers with necessary digital skills as well as ensuring the safety of minors who use digital devices/platforms,” he said. The Chair added that the Board was walking the talk as evidenced through the proposed review of the films and broadcast content regulations with a view to aligning them with the changing technological landscape. The Board’s Ag. CEO, Christopher Wambua, echoed the sentiments by the Board’s Chair, stating that the key objective of the PaDIL Programme is to enhance the capacity of parents, teachers, caregivers and social workers, to enable them to guide children on responsible consumption of audio-visual content as well as the utilization of digital spaces safely. The Programme is also tailored to create awareness of the effects of media content and emerging technologies on children.
“PaDiL is premised on the basis that parents and caregivers are critical points of contact for children. As such, they need to possess basic skills to employ when helping the young ones under their care to navigate the digital space safely. This has also become necessary and critical in view of digital transformation, which has resulted in an increase in devices that connect to the internet in our homes,” Wambua said. 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, Wambua said that the Board will continue to create awareness on the role of parents and society as a whole in ensuring the safety of minors who use digital devices/platforms. Through this collaborative programme, Wambua added that the Board intends 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. “It is gratifying to note that our partners in this programme, have either instituted parental control mechanisms on their respective platforms or created safe online spaces for children, solutions that play a critical role in ensuring that children at various stages of development are protected from access to inappropriate material online. Ms. Josephine Atieno, CECM of Youth, Gender, Culture, Sports and Social Services, while representing the County Government of Nakuru, lauded the PaDIL Programme and urged parents to be on the frontline in protecting children from inappropriate content. “We are happy that KFCB in collaboration with partners such as Netflix and Google have seen the need to empower parents with digital skills to enable them monitor content children access on the digital spaces,” she said. Speaking during the forum via Zoom, Netflix’s Public Policy Manager, Ziyanda Buthelezi-Ngcobo, affirmed Netflix’s commitment to work with the KFCB in championing child online safety.
“As Netflix, we have put in place parental controls and safeguards on our platforms to ensure that children are not exposed to harmful content,” she said, adding that Netflix will continue to submit content aired on its platforms to KFCB for examination and classification for ag- appropriateness. Michael Murungi from Google, commended the PaDIL Progamme; he noted that it was timely in view of the advancing technology. “Google has put in place safeguards such as the Family Link, a tool that allows parents occasion to manage their children’s online experiences,” he said. Other speakers during the public sensitization forum were; Bishop Elijah Mwangi (Deliverance Church), Lilian Kariuki (Watoto Watch Network), Brian King (Mtoto News) and Rose Mwangi (Directorate of Children Services), among others. During the event, the Board sensitized more than 500 parents, caregivers and guardians on digital parenting during. The PaDIL Programme is being rolled out across the country.