NGO links high crime rate to internet access

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An NGO, the Women Technology Empowerment Centre (WTEC) on Tuesday attributed the increasing crime rate in the society to unrestricted and unguided access of adolescents to the Internet.

The Communication Officer of WTEC, Mr Yemi Odutola, made the observation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

Odutola said that young minds now had unrestricted access to sexually explicit materials through the use of the Internet on phones and other Information Technology (IT) gadgets.

He said that research had shown that more than 90 per cent of eight to 16-year-olds now had access to sexually explicit materials on the Internet.

“It is evident that the increasing rate of crime and sex among youths is as a result of exposure to explicit content online without proper guide.

“The rate at which adolescents access pornographic contents on the Internet is quite disturbing and should be of major concern to parents.

“The Internet has served as a medium for pedophiles, who take advantage of innocent children by engaging them in sex chat and posting nude pictures to arouse them.

“An example is a recent disturbing video of a six-year-old girl being forced to give an adult male a blow-job, which was shared across the world on social media.

“This video was accessible to all, even children.

“Children who have been exposed to sexually explicit media or victims of defilement are likely to engage in sexual activities at a very young age,’’ he said.

According to Odutola, the protection of children must begin at home where parents are expected to monitor and educate their children about the value and danger of the Internet.

He said that it was the duty of parents to educate their children about media representations of sex, relationships and gender roles.

“As parents or guardians, you should teach your adolescents to question the accuracy and intent of the messages they receive.

“You should know what your children are watching, during play times take advantage of teachable moments to discuss any inappropriate content or behaviour with them.

“Limit should also be enforced around screen time, Internet and other forms of social media.

“The use of internet filters and parental control codes can also be used to minimise the rate of pornographic elements viewed by adolescents,’’ the WTEC official said.

The communication officer, however, stressed that parental control was not sufficient in this endeavour.

He said that teachers, religious groups, cyber security agencies and governments at all levels also had a major role to play in combating sexually inappropriate materials on the internet.