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Uniting South Africans against child abuse in the digital age

South Africa is in dire need of a hub where parents, caregivers, educators, and stakeholders are empowered with knowledge about digital addiction, supported to stop giving devices to under-aged children as tech-babysitters, and from where governments can be pressured to recognise and enforce the rights of children.

 

“Children’s learning and overall healthy and balanced development are being compromised and we have the overuse of technology to blame,” says Dr Marlena Kruger, digital wellness expert and founder of the Technolife Wise Foundation. Yet, efforts to raise awareness in South Africa about this ‘pandemic’ are fragmented. “We at the foundation sometimes feel like a lone voice in the wilderness and we’ve realised that it is time to combine our efforts with other advocates of digital wellness and create an association where we can come together and take action.

“The newly formed Association for Digital Well-being and Neuro-education (ADWAN) brings together South African digital wellness experts and passionate parents and stakeholders to stand united against the negative impact of technology on our children,” says Dr Kruger, chairperson of ADWAN. ADWAN will be officially launched during a webinar on 22 February 2024 at 20:00.

“The existence of the legal rights of children is well-recognised, but not adequately or uniformly enforced in many countries, especially when those rights conflict with powerful commercial and economic interests,” says Dr Kruger. “There are many non-profit organisations and thousands of medical, scientific, and legal professionals from around the world who are already supporting the International Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Digital Age (ICD). (www.thechildrensdeclaration.org).

In this declaration, there are three fundamental legal rights of children about the deployment and use of technology that are focused on: their right to be free from intentionally addictive devices, platforms and apps; their right to be free from excessive exposure to wireless radiation; and their right to be free from commercial exploitation.

“ADWAN aims to take the role of encouraging and convincing our own government and agencies around the world to recognise these rights and take protective action for the sake of our children and their future. The goals and framework of this association are fully aligned and supported by the details of the ICD,” Dr Kruger concludes.

 

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