Over a third of Sharjah families don’t monitor kids’ Internet use: Study
Majority of households believe that the websites accessed by their kids are appropriate for their age.
While majority of Sharjah families allow their children to use smart devices, more than a third — or 37.6 per cent — do not review their kids’ online activities, a new research study in the emirate has found.
The Child Safety Department (CSD), an affiliate of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA) in Sharjah, carried out the study to identify parents’ awareness of cyber safety, especially for kids.
Based on a survey of 12,344 households in the emirate, 73.4 per cent of families with kids at home believe that the websites accessed by their youngsters are appropriate for their age.
“The data obtained (from this study) will help develop institutional strategies and plans that support children and families, help the growth and prosperity of society, and ensure protection of its youngest members who are most vulnerable to online crimes and Internet addiction,” said Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, director of the CSD.
Titled ‘Community Awareness on Safe Use of the Internet and Social Media Sites’, the study was conducted under the directives and support of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of SCFA.
A representative sample was selected randomly amongst Emirati families and expatriate residents based on administrative suburban divisions across Sharjah city. Conducted over a 14-month period from 2018–19, the survey achieved a 92 percent response rate.
“The results will serve as a foundation for new projects that explore the advancement of technologies and subsequent changes in internet usage patterns of the younger generations,” she added, discussing the potential benefits of the study.
Among those surveyed, 7,635 households reported having children, of which 72.3 per cent reported permitting their children to use smart devices, 66 per cent allowed Internet access, while 23.5 per cent enable kids to go online “only sometimes”. Some 10.4 per cent said they do not permit online activity at all.
Around 54 per cent of respondents restricted their children’s access to certain websites, while 62.39 per cent said they review their children’s activity on the Internet.
Results also revealed behaviour changes observed in children resulting from their Internet access — the most significant being “intellectual development” while “academic achievement” was ranked as the least significant.
The study recommends forging research partnerships across the network of child safety institutions to provide relevant data and information to safeguard children from threats in the virtual world. It also recommended the need to limit children’s access to games on the internet using parental controls or by blocking access through telecommunications service providers. It further proposes carrying out a study among schoolkids between seven and 18 years of age to hear their views.
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