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How to keep kids safe online

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We live in an era where most children are always online. However, even though being able to quickly access information is good, there is a lot of content that is not suitable for kids. SIMEON TASSEV advises on how to keep youngsters safe online.

Always-on connectivity has become part and parcel of today’s society, with more and more people relying heavily on email, social media and web browsing. Children growing up in this era have unprecedented access to information, multimedia and interactive learning capabilities, and are entirely comfortable using the Internet for a variety of everyday tasks. However, while embracing connectivity provides new opportunities and is essential for schools to move forward, there is a lot of content online that is simply not suitable for learners. Keeping this ‘connected generation’ safe online is vital not only for parents, but also schools, universities and other educational facilities.

The Internet is home to a wealth of information and offers new opportunities for educators to provide learners with engaging, interactive experiences. For example, channels such as YouTube can be used for video demonstrations and information clips, which offer a richer learning experience than a simple lecture. However, while much value can be found online, there are also certain safety concerns with regard to learners, especially younger ones,  on the Internet. From cyber predators to unsuitable content, suspicious websites and a host of malware, there are numerous threats for the unwary or unaware. Ensuring the safety of underage browsers online should be a top priority.

Simply denying online access or blocking websites is no longer a viable solution. Schools and educational facilities need to not only include IT as part of the curriculum, but allow for access to online capabilities for research purposes if nothing else. One of the most common issues faced by schools is searching online, particularly given the many connotations of certain words, which may lead to inappropriate results. Certain security solutions work to protect browsers by blocking access to known nefarious websites, however, this does not protect users from unknown dangers, nor does it take into account other content such as images, which use different search algorithms.

Leading browsers such as Google provide mechanisms to prevent this, such as Safe Search capabilities, however, the reality is that children are curious and are so adept at navigating computers that they can easily find this setting to switch it off. Internet content filtering solutions have thus become essential to ensure students continue to be able to leverage the benefits of the Internet, without the dangers. These solutions enforce safe searching policies, eliminating unnecessary or inappropriate results from searches of both websites and images.

Another specialised tool that can assist in improving safety is YouTube for Schools, which controls the content available via the YouTube channel to educational and appropriate content. This enables teachers and students to benefit from the power of multimedia content, but prevents learners from being able to access irrelevant or dangerous materials. Again, this channel can be switched off and on, and to prevent learners from disabling safety features, security needs to be enforced through a security solution that prevents them from being able to do this.

Other vital security solutions include firewalls, antivirus, link verification and social media security solutions, all of which can make online experiences safer and more enjoyable. In addition to implementing sophisticated security technology and best practices, however, education is also a critical aspect. Aside from inappropriate content, there are a host of other threats online that the unaware could fall prey to, from cyber predators to phishing scams to malicious links that download malware onto systems. Learners need to be taught not only how to use the Internet, but how to make sure they stay safe online.

The Internet has a lot of valuable information and can be hugely beneficial for educational purposes. As a result, schools need to allow access to online content. However, they are also under obligation to keep learners safe from harm. Ensuring content is safe and appropriate, implement technology to enforce this, and following best practices around security are all essential, and must be backed up with education around security and safety practices themselves. Only in this way can educational facilities ensure students are protected while still enabling them to leverage the freedom and benefits of connectivity.

* Simeon Tassev, Director and QSA at Galix

Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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Sports streaming takes off

Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.

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England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.

According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.

Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.

The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.

“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”

With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.

“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”

The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.

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