Bolo Bhi representatives Farieha Aziz and Hija Kamran conducted digital security training sessions with teachers and students at the Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) and Teachers’ Literature Festival (TLF) in Islamabad from October 1 to 3, 2015. The sessions were geared to increase awareness of the harm the internet can cause and how to avoid falling victim to cybercrime.
At TLF, the main focus was to make teachers aware of email, social media and computer security. The biggest concern shared by teachers was the security of their Facebook accounts and mobile phones. Bolo Bhi representatives explained in detail Facebook security settings, followed by how to secure emails. The training included mobile phone security. However, most of the teachers were not smartphone users.
Two sessions were held for students at the Children’s Literature Festival. Some of the students were enthusiastic and displayed a desire to learn new things. They actively took part in the discussion and fielded some interesting questions. Some of the students were very familiar with the internet, and were active users at home – they had their own tablets or used their parents’ smartphones and laptops.
According to some teachers, they can't keep track of their children's online activities.
The sessions with children were aimed at creating awareness about securing passwords and their social media accounts while giving them a detailed overview of social media ethics. Many of the children had shared their passwords with their friends or someone at their school, in case they forgot their password. A few of them had made new accounts when they forgot their passwords.
One of the fifth graders knew what viruses and antivirus softwares were and knew a few methods to secure himself online. He said if somebody asked for his information pretending to be his friend, he would confirm with his friend over the phone or in school if the account was actually being operated by him. One third-grade student said she didn’t share her password with anyone other than her parents.
Online gaming security protocols were also emphasized at the training where children were taught not to reply to if a stranger messaged using the game’s inbuilt chat. They were also told not to share private information with anyone anywhere on the internet. Bolo Bhi urged students to share what they do on the internet with parents or someone in the family. They were told unsupervised access to the internet may result in greater harm later.
The trend of confining desktop computers to a public space in the house with the monitor visible to all has changed. Now children use personal laptops, tablets and smartphones which can be carried anywhere, enabling unsupervised internet access. When the teachers were asked to keep an eye on children’s online activities, one of them replied, “They don’t listen to us now.” This independence combined with the fact that everything is readily available to children makes it necessary to ensure their online safety.
When the students were told never to download anything from an unauthorized website, one of the students mentioned he frequently used torrents and other websites to download software or movies. This highlights the level of knowledge these children possess about how to navigate the internet for things they wish to access. Bolo Bhi emphasized running an antivirus frequently and downloading only from trusted websites.
PTA’S SESSION AT CLF
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) Chairman, Dr Ismail Shah, upon the invitation of Bolo Bhi, conducted a session with teachers and students at CLF.
Dr Shah began by illustrating the difference between a feature phone and a smartphone, and speaking to the children and teachers about the evolution of technology in Pakistan and what is available today.
Dr Shah introduced www.smartpakistan.pk, a PTA-run educational apps portal. SmartPakistan, also available as an app, for students to help them with their studies. The portal offers a range of apps for a wide age group. From apps that teacher basic math and alphabets to those that assist with exam revision offering a collection of past papers, some also serve as directories for colleges and universities. Smart PakistanIt is not limited to just education. While more work has gone into educational apps, Smart Pakistan will be expanded to include other apps that will cover the health and public sector. It also gives young mobile app developers a chance to to showcase their apps and make them accessible to the public.
Bolo Bhi plans to conduct more sessions for people to learn how to stay safe online.
Bolo Bhi’s guide to digital security can be viewed here
Video from Digital Security Training session at TLF can be viewed here