By Rotimi Onadipe
Online abuse generally refers to any kind of abuse that happens on the internet. It is not limited to internet but it can also happen through phone calls, text messages, instant messaging, chat rooms, online gaming, among others.
Anyone can be a victim of online abuse irrespective of age, sex, status, tribe or nationality but young children are the most vulnerable. As long as you have access to the internet or mobile phone, you are at risk of becoming a victim of online abuse at any time. Examples of online abuse are cyber bullying, online child pornography, hate speech, cyber terrorism, among others.
According to statistical analysis, as at January 2021 there were 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide which is 59.5% of the total population. Out of this total, 92.6% (4.32 billion) access the internet through mobile devices. This is why online abuse in today’s digital age has become multifaceted. Strange and unimaginable cases of online abuse involving teenagers, minors and even toddlers are being reported almost every day.
We must be informed that the internet is loaded with both educative and harmful contents, so we must be very cautious anytime we are online. Online abuse is a global problem which has made parenting a big challenge for many parents in today’s digital age. This is why it requires a collective effort from all stakeholders.
If necessary actions are not taken at the right time or not taken at all, online abuse can have dangerous impact on anyone or the society.
For the war against online abuse to be won, we must all learn to use technology responsibly, respectfully and cautiously.
Safety tips to prevent online abuse in the society:
- Religious leaders should preach more about salvation and morality rather than prosperity.
- All parents should work on the salvation of their children and inculcate the fear of God in them.
- There is an urgent need to include online safety, moral and sex education into the curriculum of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
- All internet users should avoid posting or sharing any harmful content online e.g. pornographic pictures or videos, fake news or misinformation.
- Social media companies must collaborate with law enforcement agents, advocates of online safety and other stakeholders to address the menace of online abuse.
- Students, pupils and young children generally should not be given access to social media or mobile phone if they are not well informed about online safety.
- All legislators should work more on online safety related bill and pass it into law to reduce online abuse in the society.
- All internet users should avoid posting or sharing of sensitive or personal information online.
- There is need for stakeholders to set up a program where internet users will be sensitised on dangers and lasting solutions to online abuse.
- Social media companies must monitor and regulate it in such a way that they can easily detect and remove any harmful content immediately it is posted or shared online.
- Government at all levels should set up a system to educate all citizens about online safety.
- Any case of online abuse should be reported immediately to relevant stakeholders or agencies for proper action.
- Emergency lines for cases of online abuse should be displayed at public places so that anyone can call the line at any time.
- CCTV should be installed in public places for proper monitoring of perpetrators and victims of online abuse.
- People in the education sector should be given special training on how to prevent online abuse.