Nearly one in five children bullied in UAE schools, says survey

Parents concerned about their children’s obsession with technology

Most parents in the UAE are concerned that their children spend too much time playing with technology while the majority of children choose reading books as their favourite pastime, new research has revealed.

More than half of the parents surveyed (61.4 per cent) expressed concerns about the level of exposure their children have with mobile phones, tablets, games consoles and laptops and almost three quarters (74.9 per cent) do not let their children use such technology without supervision. Yet 90.9 per cent of children surveyed in the UAE said that they enjoy reading books in their free times.

On the whole, the research findings tell a relatively happy tale for children living in the UAE.  Less than a fifth of children have been bullied at school and only 17 per cent said they were worried about going back to school this year. The majority lead active lifestyles, with running, cycling, team sports and swimming proving the most popular. And despite the advances in television and cinema, the timeless Tom & Jerry is their favourite cartoon.

The research indicates that parents in the UAE are improving their efforts towards road safety although there is still room for improvement; 79.2 per cent claimed that they ensure their children wear seatbelts while driving in the car, and 84.2 per cent allowed their children to sit only in the back seat.

As the UAE’s diabetes epidemic continues to grow, the challenges in overcoming the condition were apparent from the findings; just less than half of children surveyed (47.7 per cent) stated burgers and fries were their favourite food and 63.5 per said they liked the food served in their school.  Yet half of the parents surveyed expressed concerns about the quality and nutritional value of the food their child receives while at school.

The research findings have been revealed as Dubai parents and children prepare to attend a new Back to School event at Meydan Grandstand.

While opportunities for children to work in part time jobs and undertake intern roles during school holidays are relatively limited in the UAE, both parents and children did state it was important to them. With 86.5 per cent of parents claiming they would want their child to gain experience in an office, the top job ambition cited by the children surveyed was to be a doctor (22.9 per cent), while some chose other unconventional career paths.

A selection of UAE children’s career choices: A doctor; The boss of a big company; A pilot or aviation expert; An engineer or scientist; A radio DJ; An NBA star; A rock star; A weatherman; and An astronaut.

Christine Weaver, Exhibition Manager for Back to School, said: “The results of the survey gave us insight into the opinions of parents right here in the UAE.  While many parenting issues are shared across the globe, we do face particular and unique challenges in this part of the world.

“Looking at our survey, we can see that 63 per cent of parents believe there is a good range of after school activities on offer for kids in the UAE and we want to be able to showcase these options for families here so they can find something new,” added Weaver.

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