Parents in UAE voice concern about social media challenges


Parents in UAE voice concern about social media challenges

Dubai - They are worried their kids may get tempted to try out something dangerous.

By Sarwat Nasir

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Published: Fri 11 Jan 2019, 9:45 PM

Challenging, fun, or plain dangerous. There are different ways to look at social media challenges. Parents, for their part, are wary of these activities promoted on the Net while experts advise caution. 
Imagine watching strangers online downing large portions of junk food. How about trying out some laundry detergent? Or does living in a car for 24 hours impress you? Maybe doing chores with a blind-fold on and jumping out of a moving car to dance. All of these may sound like scenes out of a comedy or horror film. They are not. It's the reality of life as social media challenges take the Internet by storm.
Now, parents in the UAE are getting fed up with endless 'bizarre' social media challenges. They're worried their kids may get tempted to try out something dangerous and could risk their lives.
Videos of strangers gorging are garnering millions of views on YouTube. People are also blind-folding themselves doing random - sometimes risky - acts inspired by Netflix movie Bird Box.
One parent, Fatima Shamim, was shocked to find out that her 7-year-old daughter had uploaded a video of herself on YouTube without informing anyone.
"I was shocked at first. She told me, 'mama, nobody has subscribed to my channel still'. I was wondering what channel and then she revealed the name," Shamim told Khaleej Times.
In her class, many of her friends have YouTube channels and she is influenced by their activities online, Fatima said.
After deleting the video her daughter had posted, Fatima has added a restriction feature on her smart tablet, including which apps her daughter can download.
Another Dubai mother, Madeha Tahir, said she's deleted YouTube apps from all mobile phones in her home to prevent her children from getting involved in social media challenges.
"Honestly, this all is upsetting. I don't know where the world is heading tos," she said. "They simply create nonsense for views and likes.Madeha believes kids who upload social media challenges could be the targets of paedophiles and raises fears for their safety.
Dr Amy Bailey, the clinical psychology and head of psychology at KidsFirst Medical Centre in Dubai, said: "Teenagers may not understand the 'falseness' of what can be portrayed by others on social media sites therefore they perceive themselves and their own lives in a negative light.''
This can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. Indeed, a study into public health completed in the UK found that Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all led to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness.
Another parent, Gizala Saifulla Syed, believes some challenges can actually "be fun". "Ice Bucket Challenge was good, though. It was a waste of water but the good part was that they donated that money to charities." But she has disconnected social media from all devices at home as it was affected her kids "mentally".

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