The year is 2009. I had just gotten home for the August holidays and my cousins who had come to visit, were raving on and on about this new platform. I quickly got my phone and in a matter of minutes they helped me download the application, fill in my details and open  my very first facebook account. 

I did not get any induction whatsoever on what it means to be on the internet. Looking back, I now realise how much danger I exposed myself to as a teenager on the internet. This is the story of millions of teenagers today.

While most of our teachers and loved ones did their very best to teach and train us into responsible adults; there are things that most of us were left to figure out on our own; most of which were not curriculum based but real-life situations that caught up with us at some point.

With millions of children now having access to all forms of media, a good example being the 5.3 million children watching Akili Kids! every week; I think there’s no better place to start addressing some of these issues than in children’s media. As a country, we need to start expecting more from media. While TV is good for keeping the children busy so that parents and caretakers can have some time to get things done around the home, children’s media has a responsibility of ensuring that the content put out has learning moments that impacts children positively!

Here are three things that I wish I learned growing up and that children’s media can address:

  1. Financial Literacy

For the most part, a good number of us did not know what to do with our first pay checks other than pay bills. We had little to no knowledge on savings, investing or budgeting. We have had to learn the hard way, from mistakes. I believe this could have been avoided if we had some form of exposure to financial education from a young age. Anything money related can be daunting to many, especially those of us who have not come from financially privileged backgrounds. The only financial knowledge I took with me from college getting into the workforce was from a book The Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu. Then my rounds in social media led me to Just Ivy’s Instagram platform and Rina Hick’sYouTube channel Money Wise which have had immense impact on me.

The beauty of children’s content is that it can be curated to address different age groups in a way that makes the information easy for them to understand and practise. Ubongo Kids a show produced by Ubongo Media and aired on Akili Kids! does a great job when it comes to addressing matters financial literacy to teenagers. We need more of such content.

  1. Cyber Security

Now more than ever children access smart devices and the internet at a much younger age. And with a good number of schools having moved from physical classes to online platforms over the past one year, children’s exposure to the internet has significantly increased. 

 The Communications Authority of Kenya is reported to have detected more than 56 million cyber threat events between October-December 2020. This is a wake-up call. Are our children safe on the internet? What can we do to ensure that they do not end up falling prey while on these platforms?

Do these kids have an idea of what threats they may be exposed to. Can they identify a cyberbully, a software malware, a con, an instance that may lead to human trafficking, the list is endless.

Akili Network is currently working on a show; that aims to address matters cybersecurity. The show will target children between the ages of 7-14years and we hope that it  will be a powerful tour guide for our youngsters when it comes to navigating the World Wide Web. 

  1. Good Governance

 I strongly believe that we can imagine a new Kenya. This will only be possible if we start teaching younger generations early enough on what good governance looks like, what true leadership entails, what to expect from those given mandate to lead and what it means to be a responsible citizen. It is important for them to learn our history and what we stand for as a country from a young age. Children are largely influenced by their surroundings; the things they hear and see us do. If we are permissive to vices such as corruption and poor governance, then it is unrealistic of us to expect a new generation of Kenyans that is invested in the wellbeing of the nation.

Children’s media plays an integral role in influencing our children and it is only right that they are held responsible and accountable when it comes to the content they create and the impact it has on our children.

Do you agree? Let us know. 

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