Introducing Digital Citizenship Education to Botswana
The internet has shifted lives in many ways previously unimaginable. Cyberspace is an exciting world.
It has brought about all kinds of possibilities. All it takes is just an online post and one has instantly reached masses of people around the world.
This could be a web or social media post that changes the world entirely.
“Power to the people” – a political slogan used in protests against oppression in the US in the 1960s has truly come to life. Power is finally with the people, and on many fronts.
On the freedoms front, oppressive regimes have been toppled and injustices have been exposed; on the social side, communities are receiving amenities and livelihoods are being sustained.
On the personal front, careers are being built, businesses are being created, knowledge is being spread and lives are being saved.
These are all positive effects of the power that now lies with the people.
There are however negative effects that are fast emerging and threatening to erode or reverse the benefits that cyber technology has brought about.
Cybercrime, cyberbullying human trafficking and fake news, among many, are emerging threats to the power that the people now have.
As a nation that has put a lot of effort in ensuring that it becomes a part of the digitally connected world and enjoys the spoils of cyber technology with one of the highest internet penetration rates on the African continent at 47%, Botswana is not spared the negative effects of cyber abuse.
With cyber technology, society now has more social ills to deal with.
Cyber bullying and fake news are becoming common occurrences, particularly on social media platforms.
These are indicative of a scourge in the making and Interventions are needed as a matter of urgency.
Governments around the world are rushing to enact legislation that criminalises abusive and criminal acts on cyber space, but it is common knowledge that penalties alone are never a deterrent.
Digital Citizenship Education is therefore needed. This would be effective if applied in the same manner as HIV/AIDS and Road Safety awareness campaigns. Digital Citizenship is a term used to describe safe and responsible use of the internet.
First world countries are already taking note of realities that are emerging as a result of emerging trends in cyber abuse and are rolling out Digital Citizenship Education initiatives, with some starting as low as pre-school level.
InFuture Foundation’s eBotho Digital Citizens Campaign will therefore go a long way in sensitizing Batswana about emerging cyber threats, and promoting cyber safety and security as a means to protecting and maintaining societal safety.
The campaign, which will be launched on Safer Internet Day on 11th February 2020, will involve dissemination of awareness messages through various mediums such as newspapers, radio, TV, billboards and web.