Promoting and Protecting Children’s Rights in an ever Challenging and Growing Digital Age

As the Internet rapidly penetrate every home, village, city and state of the globe, children and young people’s experiences are increasingly informed by their use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Indeed, ICTs are becoming a complex reality in the lives of young people in the modern world. These new technologies are increasingly woven into the very fabric of young people’s life both in the developed and under-developed countries of the world, Nigeria inclusive. Unfortunately, there are also new or evolving risks – exposure to violence; access to inappropriate contents, goods and services; concerns about excessive use; online predators, drug addictions, pornographic contents, issues of data protection, violation of rights and privacy. Also, the lack of proper approach to educating and protecting children add further challenges to their online experience and expression. As it becomes increasingly difficult to draw the line between offline and online risks, it is crucial for all stakeholders in Nigeria particularly – parents, teachers, educators, government, policy makers and industries – to examine how this changing environment impacts the wellbeing, growth and development of children and raises their critical awareness on how to uphold and protect their fundamental human rights. Although there is a global concern on the urgent need to understand how to minimise the risk of harm young people face online; it is more important to encourage, empower and listen to them in order to help them maximise the potentials of digital media for learning, participation and creativity. This paper, therefore, seeks ways in which children and young people’s rights particularly in Nigeria could be promoted and protected. These would safeguard them from both online and offline predators and other internet and digital media risks and dangers. It is believed that if children and young people are well equipped and digital literate, they would be able to make informed choices, aware of their rights, express their opinions and develop a positive sense of selves.

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