Incorporating research and feedback from parents, teachers and children locally, the Norton Online Family Report sheds new light on the realities and risks of growing up in the digital age for children in the UAE. This latest insight from consumer internet security experts shows that more than half (54%) of the UAE’S children between 8 and 17 have experienced a negative situation online with children detailing the most frequent incidents as the following:
I downloaded a virus to my own or to my family computer (28%).
Another child or teenager I don't know tried to add me as a friend on a social networking site (22%).
I have seen very violent images, videos or games online (20%).
Cybercrime is evolving at a rapid pace in the UAE, not only across PCs and laptops but additionally through social media and mobile devices that younger children and teenagers are increasingly having access to. With this in mind, parents are starting to take note about how they can protect their children. The biggest fears among parents in the UAE about their child and the internet are currently:
That they will be exposed to indecent material (43%).
That they are interacting with inappropriate people (35%).
- That they will give out too much personal information to strangers (35%).
“Kids are developing their online identity at an earlier age than ever before,” said Tamim Taufiq, Head of Consumer Sales MENA,” “and they need parents, teachers and other role models to help them figure out where to go, what to say, how to act and perhaps most importantly, how not to act. Negative situations online can have repercussions in the real world—from bullying to money lost in scams to giving strangers personal information.”
“Parents and teachers play an enormous role in keeping kids—and themselves—safe online, and this year’s Norton Online Family Report shows a real need for further education,” added Taufiq. “Having an open dialogue with kids in a safe environment like at home or school can be much more effective, along with arming children with the tools they need to stay safe. We are pleased to see that over half the parents surveyed are talking to their kids about online safety.”
It’s not all bad news…
Research illustrates that parents are setting ground rules, however, for online use, which helps kids have a more positive experience and only 3% of parents in the UAE say they have no idea what their children do online which shows that parents are adopting strong sense of caution and awareness when it comes to online protection.
The Norton Online Family Report shows that 57% percent of parents have house rules for how their children can use the Internet although this still leaves room for improvement with only 38% having set parental controls on the family computers. For those households where rules exist, while the “good kids” who follow the rules stay relatively safe with 52% having had a negative experience online, this increases to 57% percent among rule-breakers.
We DO need education
The vast majority of parents think schools should integrate technology to mirror real life – 76% of kids and 83% of teachers agree while 50% of kids think they get too little education at school about online safety. Essentially, the education process has to be a joint effort - teachers strongly feel that teaching kids about internet safety should be a joint responsibility between themselves and parents (89%). Parents are willing to take on the responsibility (49%) but many also think it’s a shared duty between themselves and teachers (47%). We can only expect this to increase over the next few years as teachers anticipate more internet and computer courses in the next 1 – 2 years. Free solutions like Norton Online Family provides structure and guidance for parents and encourages dialogue.
Teachers at Risk? New ‘Cyberbaiting’ Phenomenon
This year’s report identifies the new issue of “cyberbaiting,” a growing phenomenon where kids taunt their teachers, then capture the distressed reactions via cell phone videos, of which 28% of teachers have personally experienced or know another teacher who has experienced this in the UAE.