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27 February 2024

Safety with Emirates 24|7: Do UAE parents do enough to protect kids online?

By Sneha May Francis

Cyber threat or bullying is very real, yet parents in the UAE are not doing enough to protect their children online, reveals new study.

Research from Kaspersky Lab and B2B International shows that 50 per cent of parents in the UAE believe that threats facing their children online are increasing – from cyber bullying to inappropriate content.  

It found that 24 per cent of adults in the UAE do nothing to protect their kids from Internet threats, despite the fact that a staggering 42 per cent of them have seen their children encounter actual threats online, including viewing inappropriate content, stumbling across dangerous strangers and cyberbullying.

Sixty-one per cent also fear that the Internet is affecting their kids’ health or well-being in some way.

With 37 per cent feeling they have no control over what their children see or do online; nearly 74 per cent don’t bother to talk to their kids about Internet threats.

Where action is taken, it is focused on things that can be largely ineffective: e.g., 25 per cent say they check their kids’ browsing history, although by that stage much of the damage could already have been done. Less than a quarter (22 per cent) have installed parental control software.

Some parents feel monitoring their children's online diary would be invading their privacy. "I would keep the communication channel open, and tell them what to look out for. They can always come to me if they want any help."

Monitoring might defeat the purpose, as some children might take it the wrong way, and find other means to access the internet, and that might be more dangerous, a parent added. "The key is to educate our children about the good and bad, and to approach us if something is not right."

Some parents, like Sakhi feel, establishing simple online tools to keep some content out of their reach is a good way. "It is not easy for us to check on them all the time. Just like child-locks on TV channels, it's important to keep some restrictions  online as well."

According to David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, there are simple ways to protect our children online. "The important thing is to combine practical measures, such as installing parental control software and keeping computers in family areas, with talking to our children about potential threats and how to deal with them.”

(Image via Shutterstock)