Nov 29 – At the click of a mouse – GBV and the internet

Date: December 2, 2010
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If you want to know about the Internet, talk to me. I live on the Internet.
-Claire Fabre, age 12

Approximately 30 participants gathered at Gender Links offices in Johannesburg on November 29, 2010 to discuss GBV and the Internet. The group primarily comprised young people from both the Sacred Heart School in Observatory and the Khunumani Support Group, Soweto.

Simphiwe Shabalala began by talking about the work of the Support Group, which mainly consists of art and performance art. Jennifer Elle Lewis of the Gender and Media Diversity Centre, discussed the various risks posed by the Internet and cell-phone technology. Reviewing MXit, Facebook, online trafficking and the recent Jules High School case and cell phone video use, the youths present seemed surprised to learn that such things took place. When asked, very few knew about Facebook privacy settings or the Jules High School case.

However, some of the young people invited were very internet and IT savvy. Thando Hlatswayo, age 19, spoke about how he used MXit, but for positive purposes through what he has learned at the Khunumani Support Group. Claire Fabre, age 12, talked about how she loved the internet, and would never stop using it. “If I want to see pictures of bunnies, I just type it into GoogleÀ, she said. She also noted that her mother was not quite so internet literate.

Phil Groman, from AFROES: Transforming Africa through Digital Media, demonstrated their interactive video game about child abuse, designed in tandem with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. The video game showed different scenarios of abuse, and each threat was cleverly disguised, at first not visible to the hero or heroine making their way through the online collision course.

Following the presentations and discussions the group joined other members online to continue the conversation through Gender Links cyber dialogue platform. At the end of the day, the group did not want to leave. Many of the kids were already playing AFROES video game, and talking about online safety. Let’s hope they go forward and tell their peers about what they learned.

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