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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 March 2019

Government launches new Child Digital Safety initiative

Scheme that aims to help protect children from online threats launched to coincide with Emirati Children's Day

The “Child Digital Safety” initiative is designed to help protect children from online threats.
The “Child Digital Safety” initiative is designed to help protect children from online threats.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Saif bin Zayed yesterday announced the launch of a Child Digital Safety initiative to help protect children from online threats.

Sheikh Saif said the new scheme was an essential part of government efforts to raise awareness among children of the dangers of the internet.

The programme aims to instil “positive values and behaviour” as youngsters learn to explore social media platforms and the web.

Authorities said its introduction would empower children, assist social cohesion and help raise a new generation of digitally savvy users.

“The UAE leads the world in terms of internet and smartphone penetration and this calls for developing a sophisticated digital safety net for our children,” Sheikh Saif said.

“The UAE Government is committed to maintaining family stability and social cohesion, and children are at the top of its agenda. Their safety is key for promoting overall well-being in the UAE, maintaining social stability, empowering positive and active citizens, and raising generations with a firm grasp on the digital world.”

In 2018, a study by Norton Cybersecurity revealed that parents in the UAE lacked the experience to deal with their children’s online activities.

Nearly 90 per cent of parents said their children spent too much time on the internet, while 31 per cent said their children were bullied online.

The study also revealed that 66 per cent of families said they put no controls in place to limit children’s online access.

The average time spent online per person each day in the UAE is eight hours, with three of those spent on social media.

On Friday, the new Child Digital Safety initiative was launched together with Ohoud Al Roumi, the UAE’s Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing.

It came on the same day the UAE marked Children’s Day that coincided with the anniversary of Wadeema’s Law, legislation to help protect young people. The new scheme will seek to protect children with four ­programmes.

The first, an interactive children’s camp, will teach five to 18-year-olds how to safely use the internet and social media.

The second, known as a “digital well-being portal” will provide tools and information to help parents face the challenges of the digital world.

Meanwhile, the third and fourth elements to the strategy will consist of training workshops for both parents and teachers, as well as a support platform where people with questions on digital safety can speak to experts.

“Enhancing digital wellbeing is essential for promoting overall wellbeing in the wider community, and online safety is a key component in that regard,” Ms Al Roumi said.

“To ensure safe and secure access to the internet and smart applications, individuals need to be made aware of these threats and be well-equipped to address them.

“Establishing a safe digital environment for children and empowering them to securely use technology reflects positively on the wider community and its wellbeing.

“This new initiative is a powerful instrument for instilling positive values and behaviour among our children and guiding them to safely explore the internet and social networking platforms.”

Updated: March 17, 2019 08:40 AM

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