The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) recently launched an online game dubbed “Cyber Soldjas” to promote a safer online environment for children.

The game targets children aged between 4 to 14 years old and is aimed at guiding the children through a maze of potential dangers online and also teaching them how to protect their identity, personal data, recognise sites containing harmful content and finally develop a critical approach towards information found on the Internet.

Children within this age group learn better through action and repetition, best delivered through games.

The game has five levels based on vulnerabilities and risks on the Internet, including cybercrime, identity theft, fake news and catfishing.

The launch comes on the backdrop of children as young as the age of three having access to the Internet either on personal or shared devices.

According to data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), 20.6 million Kenyans aged three and above own a mobile phone.  Most of these gadgets are in the hands of youth aged between 25-34 who hold 6.1 million handsets. They are followed by those aged between 18-24 with 4.6 million mobile phones, while another 44,777 mobile phones are in the hands of children aged between three and four.

The CA Director-General Ezra Chiloba however, noted that increased access to the Internet and digital technology also poses significant challenges to children and the youth, including their safety.

“Impacts range from threats to protection of personal data and privacy to harassment and cyberbullying, harmful online content, grooming for sexual purposes, and sexual abuse and exploitation,” Mr Chiloba said, during the official opening of national Safe Internet Day 2022 celebrations, in a speech read on his behalf by Mrs Mercy Wanjau, the Director, Legal Services.

The online game will complement other previous initiatives such as Child Online Protection (COP), ‘BE The COP’ microsite, that the Authority has put in place to create safer cyberspace for children.  The Authority has also adopted a multi-stakeholder approach to ensure that children and future generations are protected and empowered to thrive in digital environments.

Ms, Maureen Mwaniki, Director, Women in Technology at Huawei-Kenya said that the private sector has an important responsibility and an important role in ensuring a safer Internet.

“To provide digital skills at a large scale requires efforts from all stakeholders in society and we are committed to working with partners from CA, government, industry, non-profits and academia to do this,” noted Ms Mwaniki.

The device manufacturer also has specific software and hardware for children that ensures they can access the Internet safely and several digital skills training programmes that incorporate online safety, for example, the DigiTruck that targets the under-served youth in rural communities teaching online safety every day with other partners.