Saudi Arabia: 86% parents worried about children online safety

By Irfan Mohammed

Jeddah: There is growing concern among parents upon excessive usage of smart phone by children as they refusing to put down their devices which is alarming trend in many homes whether expatriates or citizens. The situation of Indian children living in the Kingdom is more vulnerable as they are depending more upon online due to their limited access to “outside world” other than the school.

Savanta survey report

86% of parents in Saudi Arabia are worried about their children’s online safety, according to the latest survey commissioned by Kaspersky and conducted by the market research company Savanta which was released on Wednesday. Nevertheless, on average, parents only spend a total of 22 minutes talking to their children about online security through their entire childhood. More than half (83%) of those surveyed spend less than 30 minutes discussing the subject, which is half the time of one standard school lesson, the report stated.

Children’s privacy and security online are becoming one of the parents’ most prominent concerns. These are well founded as, according to the Kaspersky’s survey, over 99% children between seven- to 12-years old globally now have an internet-enabled device, smartphone or tablet, it added.

Kids who spend time online are exposed to risks: Report

In particular, nearly 2 in 3 parents (70%) agree their kids spend too much time online, which not only means trading other joys and benefits of the childhood for the screen time, but also being continuously exposed to various potential risks, report said.

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The most dangerous online threats, according to parents, are children seeing harmful content, such as sexual or violent (61%); experiencing internet addiction (41%); and receiving anonymous messages or content inciting them to carry out the violent or inappropriate activity (23%).

Parents making attempts to reduce risks

To reduce potential risks and explain the dangers of surfing the Internet, 68% of parents in Saudi Arabia say it is a joint responsibility between parents and schools to teach children about online safety. 97% believe that parents are better positioned to do so since children generally trust them more.

With parents acknowledging the onus on them to provide their children with guidance, yet spending less than hour doing so, the Kaspersky research makes clear that parents are finding such conversations difficult.

Psychologist’s views

Commenting on the survey, Dr. Saliha Afridi, a leading psychologist in Dubai, said that “Parents have given technology to their children but not taught them the rules and responsibilities that go along with having it. They may discuss device etiquettes and curfews but not the details of how to use it, what to share on it, and when to report to an adult”.

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She opined that they see the phone or laptop as a benign object—which it is; however, what is being done on those devices can cause long lasting damage to the wellbeing of children.

Dr. Afridi asserted that It is very difficult for parents to stay on top of the fast paced world of technology. Every year there are different websites and every year new dangers that children can encounter on the net, she advised that parents need to make it a 6-12 month exercise where the family consults with an internet safety advisor to go over the dos, don’ts and dangers. Schools can also help parents in this regard by educating them on the internet safety rules.”

Agreeing with Saliha, Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky says, “We unfortunately have to accept that the internet allows kids to encounter the content we never want them to see. Privacy and security concerns are now top of mind for parents, and we know how difficult it is sometimes talk about these concerns with children so that they listen and not push away. That’s why Kaspersky is committed to introducing solutions and recommendations for the whole family that provide parents and kids with peace of mind.”

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