By: Edzorna Francis Mensah
Some Members of Parliament (MPs) have expressed worry over wrongful usage of social media and its implication on present and future of the children are in grave danger if steps are to protect them from the dangerous hazards of early Social Media use and consumption.
According to the MPs, there is a need now to clamp down on early social media usage by children or the needed amendment is carried out to the existing laws to introduce stiffer punishment to people who abuse it by throwing all kinds of images on it.
These concerns were raised on the floor of the house when the Deputy Majority Leader and MP for Effutu, Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin, made the statement on the need for Ghana to scale up efforts to clamp down on early social media use by Ghanaian children.
According to his statement as read, “the present and future of our children are in grave peril if we do not scale up efforts and measures to protect them from the dangerous hazards of early Social Media use and consumption”, and in this spirit, the MP accordingly, permit recommend as urgent steps to help protect the future leaders of this country, firstly, “this Parliament must firmly direct the Ministries of 1) Interior, 2) Communications and Digitalization 3) Gender, Children and Social Protection to expedite work on developing a comprehensive Online Child Protection Policy for adoption and implementation within the immediate future.
Secondly, Parliament must lead an amendment to the Cyber Security Act 2020 to impose an obligation on the Cyber Security Authority to submit SEPARATE bi-annual reports to this House for consideration and subsequent action on detailed measures it has taken to specifically safeguard Ghanaian children from the harmful effects of Social Media use and consumption.
Thirdly, this House must draft and pass a new law, through the efforts of private members, prohibiting Ghanaian children under 16 from consuming and or using social media. In that law, offending parents or guardians –– through whose negligence and or acquiescence children consume or use harmful Social Media content or become owners of Social Media accounts –– must face punitive fines. Liability for the offence will be strict, and it is enough that a person under 16 is seen consuming social media or using or opening a prohibited Social Media account”.He also charged parents to have regular and truthful discussions with their children about how predators may attempt to befriend them online; Serve as a haven for children to report or discuss the importance of immediately reporting abusive or uncomfortable conversations they have online or everything concerning anything inappropriate that they have been asked to do online; Critically examine children’s online profiles as frequently as possible to know precisely the content they generate and or post, the people they follow, and the online friends who either comment on their posts or send messages;
Mr. Afenyo however, acknowledged the fact that, there is certainly no way to avoid all the risks that come with children using the web or online applications but “the bitter truth is that there will always be evil men and women finding sneaky ways to weaponize many of the internet’s bountiful opportunities and use them to destroy innocent, curious, or unsuspecting children”.
“As a nation, we cannot throw our hands in the air. We must confront the problem by taking proactive steps, including formulating appropriate policies and creating responsive legal frameworks to tame or defeat such evil minds”, he added.