Mrs. Charity Babatunde is the Chief Executive Officer of AltAssist Limited, a multifaceted company operating from Lagos. Her zest to equip the younger generation for the future, using education and other creative and vibrant tools for the reinforcement of values, attitudes and life skills, made her exit the banking sector in 2003. WALE ELEGBEDE speaks with her
Babatunde, is the pioneer authorized DQ Ambassador in Nigeria by virtue of RAVE et AL’s, certification (the first in Africa) by the DQ (Digital Intelligence Quotient) Institute, an institution which aims to empower children between 8 and 12 years around the world with DQ digital citizenship skills.
Globally, internet safety is an issue of concern for both adults and children. While adults usually find a way around it, children appear vulnerable to the vices and intrusions daily bestriding the cyberspace.
With the advent and exposure to social media, children are increasingly getting stuck to various negative cyber behaviour . Notable among these cyber confrontations include, but not limited to cyber bullying and threats, online trolling, sexual solicitation, hurtful and low-esteem comments, scams, rumors, gossip, hurtful, identity theft, cyber deficiency, stalking and inordinate adventure.
According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1 in 5 children receive a sexual solicitation or approach via the internet in a one-year period. The report further states that 70 per cent of children have encountered pornography on the Web accidentally.
Similarly, an NOP Research Group report says more than 29 per cent of internet-using children freely give out their home address, e-mail address and other personal information online when asked.
Also, statistics show that nearly 43 per cent of kids have been bullied online and 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once. Shockingly, a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Cox Communications Parental Internet Monitoring Survey, states that 95 per cent of parents could not identify common chat room lingo phrases such as POS “Parents Over Shoulder” and P911 “Parent Alert,” which are used to warn people with whom they are chatting their parents are watching.
Given the wide array of dangers posing as a harmless buddy on the cyberspace to children, the need to comprehensively safeguard kids from inappropriate advances and contacts, and orientate their usage of the cyberspace, clearly becomes inevitable.
Leading the vanguard for this caution and cyber ethics familiarization for children in Nigeria and Africa, is Mrs. Charity Babatunde, a certified life coach. For Babatunde, to reinforce values, attitudes and life skills in children, either online or offline, parents and guardians can rely on a global initiative, Digital Intelligence Quotient (DQ).
The initiative, christened ‘DQEveryChild,’ is piloted by Babatunde’s social enterprise firm, RAVE et Al Limited. The invectiveness is a digital intelligence education programme, which can be ‘plugged and played’ into Nigeria’s education system, for free.
With the scheme, DQ Institute, said children in Nigeria will be able to measure their ability and command of digital media, thereby helping to combat their exposure to dangers such as fake news, cyber bullying, online grooming and radicalisation . The certified Senior Professional in Human Resources espouses further on the initiative.
Digital Intelligence Quotient and the Nigerian child
Digital Intelligence Quotient measures the ability to use digital technology and media in safe, responsible and effective ways, in the same way as IQ and EQ measure the general and emotional intelligence. #DQEveryChild is a combination of online education tools and real-time assessment which is free to every child 8-12 globally, and can be easily ‘plugged and played’ into any national or school curriculum via the DQWorld.net platform, paving the way for a healthier, safer and more prosperous digital economy, for all. Children in Nigeria will now be able to measure their ability and command of digital media – helping to combat their exposure to dangers such as fake news, cyber bullying, online grooming and radicalization.
The nature of assessment
The curriculum of 20 lessons over 10 hours is delivered through storytelling and gamified design, which makes learning interactive and fun and encourages a positive attitude shift and behavior. At the end of each lesson, children take an online real-time assessment that will provide DQ scores for each of the skills acquired. Children are ‘scored’ against a range of criteria – such as sharing personal data; meeting online strangers; online sexual behaviors; exposure to violent content; cyber bullying and game addiction – with the average DQ score for each set at 100. For example, with an average score of 100 against the criteria of sharing personal data, the risk of a child sharing personal data is a 17 per cent risk. However, increasing their DQ score to 110 reduces that risk to 12 per cent , raising their score to 120 reduces it to 8 per cent , and increasing it to 130 reduces it to 6 per cent.
Why DQ in Nigeria?
“Our children are digital natives, born into a world that offers them incredible opportunities but not without its own fair share of dangers. The 8 core digital citizenship skills that DQWorld.net empowers our children with, is a vital necessity for helping them make informed choices and navigate the digital world safely. Our organization RAVE et-al Limited, is a social enterprise that partners with parents, schools, government and other stakeholders, to equip the younger generation for the future, using education and other creative & vibrant tools to reinforce values, attitudes and life skills that are imperative for successful & safely navigating the various phases of life online, offline and impacting the society positively. It is, therefore, a great honor for me to serve as the pioneer DQ Ambassador in Nigeria (first in Africa) and to be a part of this laudable, award-winning initiative. I encourage parents, schools, government and all other stakeholders to join the #DQEveryChild movement. Let’s make the necessary investment today, in preparing our children for the digital future,” Babatunde said.
Eight Core Value Base
The DQ mechanism is holistic and covers eight citizenship skills, namely, Digital Citizen Identity, Screen Time Management, Cyber Bullying Management, Cyber Security Management, Privacy Management, Digital Empathy, Critical Thinking and Digital Footprint Management.
A pilot programme was undertaken last year in Singapore involving more than 2,200 children aged 9-12 years old, to understand the efficacy and impact of the online program in enhancing the children’s DQ skills and in changing their attitudes and behavior against cyber risks. The study showed that the programme improved children’s DQ score, on average, by 14 per cent, minimizing the impact of risky behaviors online and maximizing their personal strengths.
The DQ Institute believes there is an acute urgency to equip children with DQ. DQ ( Digital Intelligence Quotient) – the technical, social and mental skills to be informed and discerning users of digital media and good digital citizens – is the must-have competency for all children beyond IQ and EQ in order to thrive in the digital age.
Empowering Children Is Important
According to Babatunde, empowering children is an important key to building a healthy digital ecosystem that connects school-family-community-ICT companies- government.
The DQ will teach children how to make better life choices and reduce potential online risks. It helps children develop necessary skills and digital ethics. The device also empowers students to comprehensively deepen their DQ skills and enables schools to effectively identify children at risk and facilitate timely and effective intervention. For parents, the mechanism empowers them by highlighting their child’s improvement of DQ, identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses in digital competencies and offering practical suggestions to help parents better mediate their child’s usage of digital technologies.
In a fast growing digital world, it is clear that DQ is children’s most critical life skill against cyber-dangers.
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