Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Parents want safety net when their children are surfing social media

Nearly half of all residents polled for a new survey said they were extremely worried about the content children are being exposed to on social media sites.

ABU DHABI // Nearly half of all residents polled for a new survey said they were extremely worried about the content children are being exposed to on social media sites.

Only five per cent said it was not a concern, and 59 per cent of those with children under 13 in their household said they always monitored internet use.

The survey of 760 UAE residents was conducted this month for Al Aan TV's Nabd al Arab ("Arabs' Pulse") programme by YouGov Siraj.

The results have a margin of error of four percentage points.

Only one in 20, or five per cent of respondents, said they thought children under 13 were safe online, while 40 per cent of those with children said they allowed them to access social media sites.

"Social media has two sides: positive, in terms of education, information, exploration, but also there is a negative side of it that more and more, children are being exposed to - people who intend to harm them, or dangerous ideas," said Qais Al Tamimi, an assistant professor of mass communications at UAE University. "You cannot stop these things. All you can do is to educate your children, tell them what is right and what is wrong."

Residents were divided about the effect of new technologies on children. More than 43 per cent said they thought it had a positive effect, while 41 per cent felt it was negative. Barely anyone, or two per cent, thought it had no effect.

Forty-four per cent strongly agreed that children under 18 were too young to own a smart phone.

When asked who should be responsible for monitoring children's activities online, 44 per cent said it was at least partly the duty of the country's internet regulatory committee. Of the Emiratis, nearly two-thirds thought so.

Fifty-two per cent said it was also the responsibility of older siblings to supervise younger children when they went online. More than a fifth put part of the burden on the website manager.

Howard Reed, the senior director of the Higher Colleges of Technology and a parent of a 13-year-old, suggested teachers should lay the ground rules for using modern technology intelligently and safely.

"As the world becomes more complicated, educational institutions have to take on the mantle of responsibility," he said. "As a parent, I don't monitor 100 per cent of anything my child does, and probably haven't since he was about a year old. But a regulatory committee should be the last resort for monitoring the internet or any kind of social network."

As times change, it is important to allow children to spend some time interacting online, said Dana Shadid, a producer on Nabd al Arab.

"Parents realise that they cannot take access away from their children because it is important in terms of their education and learning," she said.

There was a widespread belief, too, that radiation from mobile phones is harmful to children. Some 46 per cent strongly agreed, while 34 per cent somewhat agreed. An agency of the World Health Organisation recently classed mobile phone radiation as a possible cancer risk on par with pickled vegetables.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Ali Benflis, opposition leader and main rival to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika speaks to the press after casting his vote in the presidential elections at a polling station in Algiers on. Former prime minister Benflis ran against Bouteflika in 2004 but lost heavily, charging the vote was rigged 10 years ago and has said fraud will be his ‘main adversary’ during the election. Patrick Baz / AFP Photo

Best photography from around the world, April 17

The National View's photo editors pick the best images of the day from around the world.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National