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50pc of UAE youth on social media face online threats

Dubai, December 11, 2013

While 95 per cent of between the age of 14 and 18 school students in the UAE are active on social media, half of them have faced some form of online threats including cyber bullying, identity theft, and harassment, a report said.

Almost 20 per cent faced cyber bullying, 15 per cent identity theft, 13 per cent harassment.

An alarming 86 per cent of the surveyed students said that they do not know who to seek help from when faced with cyber-crime, added the survey published by ICDL GCC Foundation, an advocate of digital skills and cyber safety for-all, and the sole operator of ICDL in the GCC and Iraq.

The data clearly suggested that children are either too shy or scared to speak about their online harassment incidents.

The survey also found that when faced with an online threat, children prefer to talk to their parents. Almost 42 per cent of surveyed youth approached parents, 27 per cent their friends and 13 per cent the concerned authorities.

Only 7 per cent wanted to share their concerns with teachers and just 1 per cent with their school administration, emphasizing the dire need of raising awareness on social media and cyber safety in schools.

The survey highlighted that most parents are aware about their children’s social media activities and extend support to them as 86 per cent of the respondents replied that their parents are active on social networking sites. Seven out of 10 youth said that their parents supervise them when using social media platforms.

About 71.5 per cent confirmed their parent’s supervision on digital platform while 70.5 per cent said their parents know about all their accounts. More than a third of youth in UAE – 77.5 per cent - are friends with their own parents on social media platform.

Jamil Ezzo, director general of ICDL GCC Foundation, said: “With today’s youth highly reliant on the internet and social media channels for studies, information, entertainment and staying connected with the world, it becomes highly imperative to develop measures to protect them from the dangers posed by the Internet.

“Rather than preventing them from using these useful digital platforms, we should come up with guidelines and frameworks on safe and responsible practices of internet usage and educate them about dangers lurking on the Web.”

“ICDL GCC reiterates its belief that awareness is the first line of defence in battling cyber threats which when left unchecked could have dire societal consequences,” he added.

“The respondents preferred to talk to parents (42 per cent) or friends (27 per cent) on these issues. Therefore, proactive involvement of parents and teachers in monitoring and reaching out to children is very crucial, as it could go a long way in averting all forms of online abuses,” concluded Ezzo.

Twitter is the most popular platform among UAE youth at 36 per cent, followed by Facebook at 29 per cent. Nearly 50 per cent use social media for ‘staying in touch with their friends,’ followed by chatting and studying at 21 and 18 per cent, respectively.

Only 5 per cent of the respondents were not allowed to use social media at home while 57 per cent were not permitted to access it at school. When asked to identify the importance placed on computer usage, the respondents rank schoolwork as the most important reason at 30.5 per cent, followed by gaming at 23 per cent and downloading music and videos at 18.7 per cent. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: UAE | ICDL | Social media |

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