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Protect children from dark content on WhatsApp

by kenya-tribune

They say birds of a feather flock together.

Following the increased internet diffusion in Kenya, the most affected generation by online misdemeanours and even cybercrime are the youth — thanks to their easy access to the internet, with their personal smartphones, laptops and tablets.

The WhatsApp website has become the most dominant communication platform, beating even its powerful competitor, Facebook.

A study by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CK) in 2016 puts mobile penetration in Kenya’s population of nearly 50 million at 88 per cent. It narrows that down to clarify that around 10 million people are active WhatsApp users while 6.1 million use Facebook.

These figures tend to increase yearly and, in the youth sector, it raises an alarm about not only the quality but also the quantity of sexual content being produced in the platform.

Admins create groups, type the group description and then send invites via links to other groups. Later on, new members will join and conversations will take the better part of them.

What is worrying is that the amount of sexual content being exchanged among and within these groups is extremely dangerous to the mental state of the young users.

A link will be sent from the other group from a normal group chat that contains sexual content in the form of an advert.

Those who feel they are fit to join that group then do. In a single group, there might be two to five advert-like links per day. Images and videos are sent by anyone any time, depending on demand.

The chain extends to individuals posting them on their status. The resulting number of viewership could surprise you, depending on the number of contacts on the phone, commenting proudly on the posted status.

Ironically, you’ll find people old enough to be the youth’s parents or guardians, brothers or sisters in such a group. Normally, they are the active members and the frontline sexual predators.

Research shows that the most affected are children and youth 11-27 years old, not forgetting the driving force who are above 27 years old following in line.

All these digital engagements of children on the dark WhatsApp website and other similar platforms are a result of their parents or guardians’ ignorance on how deeply involved in it the minors are.

Most parents tend to focus on providing for their families’ daily basic needs, easily forgetting about their children’s lifestyles and what they always do.

They come home from work exhausted, and the children grab the opportunity at night (and any time they aren’t present) to engage in these online sexual exploitation activities.

The question is, what are you, as a parent or community, doing to curb this trend? If you are doing something against it, is it enough?


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