Children accessing adult content as early as 14 years, says UCC

The survey found that majority of children access adult content through internet enabled mobile devices, among which include phones and tablets. Photo / File 

What you need to know:

  • According to a UCC survey conducted between December 12, 2019 and January 31, 2022, it was found that children as young 14 years were accessing the Internet in their bedrooms at home with no adult guidance from where they access adult content. 

Children are being introduced to adult content as early as 14 years, according to Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). 

Speaking in an interview yesterday, Ms Irene Kaggwa, the UCC acting executive director, said UCC had in a survey conducted between December 12, 2019 and January 31, 2022 in 96 districts found that children as young 14 years were accessing the Internet in their bedrooms at home with no adult guidance from where they access adult content. 

“Sadly, some children are accessing adult content in their bedrooms at home. Kids are being introduced to Internet with no guidance on the dangers,” she said, noting that there was need for deliberate interventions by different stakeholders including government, parents, tech companies, schools and online communities to protect children 

In a survey titled Uganda Children’s Online Survey, UCC said regardless of gender, children begin using the Internet at about 14 years - majority from their bedrooms at home.  

The survey interviewed 2,766 children aged between six and 17 years, majority of whom indicated that they mostly used the Internet to among other things, access social media sites, exchange images, browse the Internet, and install apps on devices.

Nine out of 10 children, the survey noted, said they used a smart phone or a feature phone to access the Internet at home, while only three out of 10 reported accessing or using the Internet at school. 

“Most children were using the Internet at home. For those who used the Internet at school, majority reported being constrained by not only an infrastructural constraint in the schools, but mainly due to rules that prohibit the use of Internet enabled devices such as phones while at school. Thus, for those who were using these devices in school, used them secretly,” the survey reads in part.

UCC indicated that one in every five children online had seen a sexual image in the 12 months to the survey, with majority conceding that they had accessed them through social networking sites using (44.7 percent) Internet-enable mobile device. 

The survey further indicated that only one in every 10 children had shared a sexual image with these acts manifesting more among boys aged between 15 and 17 years. 

The survey also found that less than half of children who use the internet (44.6 percent) said they knew how to act when faced with different situations.  

However, despite this, 85.3 percent said they never contacted their parents about issues they encountered online, while most of them conceded they had not personally been bothered by anything online while those that faced some issues said they were upset but either did nothing or sorted out the issue. 

Mr Fred Otunu, the UCC director corporate affairs said: “From the findings it would require a multi-stakeholder approach to manage child online protection,” noting that because most children access adult content without the notice of their parents, it required multi-sectoral approach. 

The survey also found that most children, which is about 81 percent, spend about two hours on a weekday on the Internet, of which slightly more than half (55 percent) spend less than one hour, while about 1 percent are always on the Internet. 

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