The fight against the “infodemic” has been gaining momentum as Kenya enters its second month in the war against Covid-19. With more time spent at home, some Kenyans can relax with their families and discover new ways to live that would effectively flatten the curve. Others have found new ways to use their social media platforms to ease growing anxiety among parents and more importantly, their children.
Children are incredibly susceptible to soaking in the anxieties of their parents and the distressing news on television, according to a report by Unicef. The agency says that children are particularly vulnerable to “feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness.”
As a solution, they advocate for “child-friendly honesty” when discussing the virus with children, which involves being sensitive to the child’s levels of anxiety and using terms that are age-appropriate to convey information about the disease.
Keeping them informed using media they can easily understand while involving them in the process of sharing their stories is something that Jennifer Kaberi, founder and coordinator of Facebook group ‘Mtoto News’, has taken seriously amid the mayhem of the coronavirus pandemic. The page, defined as a digital information and resource platform, has been in existence since 2017 and addresses issues related to children and parenting in general.
In a phone conversation with the Nation, Ms Kaberi said she discovered a niche in crafting stories for and about children that gave them more context to the news relayed in traditional media.
“Especially with regards to the coronavirus, we sought to relate what that means to children and to involve their voices in the conversation to find out what they would expect, both from their parents as well as the government,” she said.
In a bid to stay ahead of the curve, she had also prepared a series of infomercials and content to keep her audience in the loop on all matters Covid-19.
Together with a dedicated team of creative and journalists, they developed child-friendly tools to communicate information on handwashing, symptoms of the disease and other preventive measures to be taken to curb the spread of the virus.
“We had been following updates from other countries coping with the virus already and started creating content in case it came here,” she said. Some of these tools have also caught the eye of other community-based organisations across the continent, including some in Ghana, who reached out to Mtoto News looking to use their available information graphics.
A new challenge came up — homeschooling. “We provided parents with links to resources like the Aga Khan Academy, among others,” she says. The page also amplifies lessons provided on traditional media channels in the form of alerts to help parents plan their home timetables accordingly.