How Google is Helping Children Be Digital Citizens

Digital skills are necessary to be successful in today’s world. Google knows this and they set an ambitious goal to train 5 million Africans with digital skills.

According to Juliet Ehimuan, Google’s Country Manager in Nigeria, she shared an update on this at the Google for Nigeria event which held on Wednesday, July 24th, 2019. To date, Google has trained 4 million across the African continent. 48% of the total number trained are women and 50% of the Africans trained are from Nigeria alone. [See highlights from the LagosMums Google Digital skills and YouTube Masterclass Training]

google for nigeria
Google for Nigeria

The event was an amazing set of presentations from the various Google employees sharing their innovation, new products, insights and activities.

I was most excited by what they are doing to reach the younger generation. Raising more responsible digital users as well as attempting to limit the gaps in education by bringing literacy skills to children’s fingertips. 

For a Company that started out as a research project and search engine, Google has evolved to impact almost everybody who is an internet user. 

As someone who believes in the importance of the internet, technology and digital skills it is exciting to see all the amazing feats that Google has made and continues to make. Success is being fulfilled by technology in the fourth industrial revolution.

They are leveraging their position as one of the most powerful technology firms in the world. Google shows that while making a profit, you can also make an impact. They are empowering startups, using data to improve their products and using AI in interesting ways.

Funding and Tech Space in Nigeria

Through google.org, several Nigerian based NGOs that cut across various sectors have received funding. One of such recipients is WTEC, that focuses on teaching children to code. They have provided $3million equity-free funding for startups who then go through an accelerator program. Some of the startups that received this initial no equity stake funding, have gone on to raise external funding for their businesses.

Google will be opening a Launchpad space in Nigeria, in collaboration with CCHub. This will provide space where startups and others will get to meet, learn, collaborate and connect.

According to Moustapha Cisse, head of Google AI Accra, Africa is the fastest-growing population. By 2050, it will be approximately 2.5 billion people and also represent the youngest population in the world. 

 

Google children Nigeria LagosMums

Safety and Security for Children

According to Paul Nicholas, Director, Trust and Safety, Google; one in three internet users is under the age of 18. They are accessing information and making use of this information on a daily basis. As a result, security is very important.

He mentioned that they identified a gap when it comes to how the youngest users being responsible digital citizens. When it comes to how to truly play a part in the digital economy many young people are excluded. Many school-aged children are excluded from digital skills and online safety because it is not adequately taught in schools. Through the Web Rangers program, Google has trained 10,000 students across Nigeria, helping children stay safe online and maximize their online experience.

In September 2019, Google will be rolling out an online safety curriculum across select schools in Nigeria. Their goal is to reach 56 million Nigerian students. They have collaborated with the Nigerian Government to create this online curriculum. Their collaboration includes working with the Public and Private Development Centre, The Ministry of Education and the Nigerian Education fur research and development council to achieve this goal. According to Mr Nicholas, they plan to reach students far and wide to equip the younger generation with the right skills to be better informed and make better decisions as digital citizens.

Google Tackling Education for Children

Nitin Kashyap, Product Manager Google Research shared that according to data; 617 million children and adolescents have no literacy education, In addition, 50% of them are in Sub Saharan Africa.

Google lens which has been rolled out inside Google Go allows people to use take a picture and have the text in the picture read out in English. Additionally, this can now be translated into Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. This is a great tool to help with illiteracy. Download at g.co/googlelens

Bolo is another amazing app that helps kids read and is great for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Once downloaded, it works completely off-line and doesn’t use data thereafter. Additionally, it is ad-free, free to use and distraction-free which is great for kids who are learning to read. You can download this by going to g.co/bolo on the Google Playstore.  Currently, Bolo has up to 30 African books all targeted at helping children with their literacy skills.

The kids can choose the book they want, have it read to them they can also attempt to read in the App. The app can identify when a child is struggling with a particular word, and will, therefore, say the word, spell it out and read it out for the child. It’s essentially Google for kids.

The app actually helps them learn how to pronounce and spell which is pretty great. And it is all Free. 

Yetty Williams Google for Nigeria
Google Arts and Culture

Another great product which was introduced by Laurent Gaveau was Google arts and culture. This is an amazing one that teaches art and culture from different parts of the world. Their newest product created with the Nigerian audience in mind is come chop belleful, a taste of Nigeria, which covers various topics. Some of the topics covered include how to make Nigerian jollof rice, how to learn the art of pounding yam and even how to even make Tiger nut milk. Children can learn by exploring various cultures as well as appreciate art from different countries.

Google’s Family Link for Parents

Family link helps your family create healthy digital habits. Whether your kids are younger or in their teens, the family link app from Google plays store can help protect and monitor your children. You can really help guide them as they learn to explore online, and on their devices, or chrome. Parents can manage the content their children have access to and can approve or decline the apps your child wants to download from the Google Play Store.

You can remotely hide apps on their device at any time. In addition, activity reports can show how much time has been spent on apps. Family Link lets parents manage the amount of time kids spend on their devices, set a device bedtime and lock the device anytime.

You can also see what they share where your child is located as long as they have their device with them and it is on. You can download here g.co/familylink

Google is really here to help your children learn, to stay safe, and to own their digital footprint and their behaviours online. 

Google Family LinkBe Internet Awesome

In terms of being internet awesome, you can teach kids about being responsible online with this simple guide smart, alert, strong, kind, and real. Google’s Internet awesome program is helping kids be safe, confident explorers of the online world.

Being smart is to be positive online, just as you would in real life. You should think before you post and you should protect your secrets. Being strong comes with creating a strong password, changing it now and then. Plus not hesitating to change passwords, anytime you think somebody has seen it or accessed it. Be alert. means to be sure that the sites you’re visiting are credible and secure. Don’t fall for scams, It can happen to anybody so there is no point in anyone feeling they are too smart for it.

It is important to remember that a website or an ad you see online cannot tell if there is anything wrong with what they are showing you. Be kind means to follow the golden rule. Do what you want others to do to you, Treat others as you want to be treated online and offline. Don’t post negative things, be kind when you make decisions of what to say and how to say it. And then Be brave, which means if you find something negative, report it, ignore it or block it. You can block inappropriate content you don’t have to consume wrong information that doesn’t make you feel good. Lastly, do not be afraid to speak up.

There are many security tools and features that parents can use to protect their children’s identity online. Just check out your account settings on Google.

YouTube

Lyor Cohen, the Global Head of Music, Youtube was joined by Mr. Eazi, famous Nigerian singer. They mentioned Beyonce’s interest in Africa; as seen in her recent Lion King album and her recent work with some Nigerian artistes.

Mr Eazi mentioned that there is a high number of young entrepreneurs in Nigeria. For him, entrepreneurship runs in his family as both his mom and grandmother are entrepreneurs. He shared that he actively looks for how to marry his creative side with his entrepreneurial side. 

He went into music full time in 2016 and has seen rapid growth; which he attributed to a large extent to YouTube. Mr Eazi pointed out that Youtube is a very low barrier to entry, aside from the data you use. 

In the early days, he said YouTube insights really helped him break onto the Global scene, pretty quickly. He paid attention to the analytics from his videos and noticed that a lot of his audience were actually based in New York. As a result, one of his first tours was in New York. This is what you call us in numbers to back up your creativity and entertainment.

Other Interesting Products

According to Ramesh Nagarajan, product manager Google Maps; maps are becoming more relevant to the local market. An example of this is a Google Maps version for motorcycles; which accounts for the difference in travel times. Nigerian voices are also now available.

More than a billion people every month use Google Photos which uses a lot of data; Gallery go has just been launched as a lighter photo storage tool that is fast and light and optimized for Android go. 80% of entry-level Android devices in Nigeria activates Android go.

Without using your data, it automatically tags and categorizes photos. The demo showed that the app has some auto enhancement technology such as transforming a photo taken in poor lighting. 

For business owners, Google My Business is a free tool that all business owners can use to improve the visibility of their business online.

Overall the #GoogleForNigeria event was a great one showing all the innovative ways that Google can be used for work and play. Children are also not left out, and they can be equipped to be responsible digital citizens with all the various tools available. 

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