Digital Literacy and Online Safety

More and more children and youth across Kenya are going online as internet infrastructure improves and connectivity and digital devices become more affordable. While this is good news for digital inclusion, the lack of digital literacy and online safety skills leaves young internet users vulnerable to threats like predation and grooming, cyberbullying and fraud.

To help children and youth to protect themselves, Fahari Community Library conducts a comprehensive digital literacy and online safety programme.

The library’s digital literacy and online safety programme is designed for children from three local primary schools, a secondary school in Migori County, and young adults from the Kakrao Technical and Vocational Training Centre. Since January 2022, the library has trained 85 children and young adults. The lessons take place on Saturdays and during the school holidays when the beneficiaries are free. Each session takes two hours, and the learners need 5 or 6 sessions to complete the training programme. All the lessons are conducted in the library.

Parents, caregivers and teachers are encouraged to attend some of the training sessions so that they can be sensitized on the importance of online safety and to motivate their children and reinforce learning at home and in schools. It is easy for the library to involve the parents of the learners because many of these parents are also beneficiaries of other programmes run by the library, such as the Woman to Woman and the Rural Realities, Real Solutions programmes. The digital literacy programme is also open to everyone who uses the library’s online services and needs guidance on online safety.

The programme, designed in collaboration with some teachers from the neighbouring schools and the local technical vocational college, comprises a mixture of interactive and practical workshops, expert talks and stories for younger children. There is also a peer mentorship programme for older children and youth who are given an opportunity become online safety mentors for younger internet users.

The curriculum is comprehensive, covering five essential topics:

  • Understanding and Identifying Online Threats: How to recognize online predators and cyberbullying, and how to avoid and report such activities.
  • Protecting Personal Information: How to use privacy settings on social media and other platforms, and what information is safe to share online and what should be kept private.
  • Recognizing and Responding to Misinformation: Critical thinking skills to assess the credibility of online information and sources, and verification strategies and tools to confirm the authenticity of news, images and videos.
  • Safe and Respectful Online Communication: The children learn ‘Netiquette’ – internet etiquette, and how to report inappropriate behaviour or content on various platforms.
  • Responsible Digital Citizenship: 
    • Respecting digital work: Older trainees, especially college students, learn about copyright, plagiarism, and respecting others’ digital work and creations.
    • Ethical Behaviour: All participants learn the principles of ethical behaviour online, including respecting others’ privacy and being mindful of the permanence of online actions and words.