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RIYAD: Almost half of parents in Saudi Arabia use parental control apps to monitor their children’s online activity, a new survey has revealed.

The study on digital behaviors of families in the Kingdom, conducted by global cybersecurity company Kaspersky, showed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents were increasingly concerned about time spent online and safety. content viewed by their children.
Of the parents polled for the survey, 49% said they used parental control apps, 47% regularly checked their children’s internet history, and 58% said their children used digital devices under supervision. a parent (46%) or a family. member (12 percent).
Meanwhile, 64% wanted to control the videos children watched, 60% the games they played and 57% the sites they visited, while 47% of those surveyed wanted to limit the time children spend online and use devices throughout the day. More than half (55%) of them said they discuss healthy digital habits with their children.
The results of the study also showed that parents and family members bear the primary responsibility for regulating children’s behavior in the digital space (88%). But 47 percent thought teachers and schools should do the job, and 31 percent thought it should be the personal responsibility of children.
A total of 98% of parents surveyed said they discussed online behavior rules and digital etiquette with their children.

Freedom and Responsibility: 49% of parents use parental control apps for security reasons. (Provided)

Experts believe that although children are more technically advanced than previous generations, many have remained naïve when it comes to online safety and security.
Dr Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, adviser and professor of law at the Riyadh Institute of Public Administration, told Arab News: “Children’s internet use is a daily routine nowadays. either for online learning due to the pandemic or simply as an entertainment or learning tool.
“So parents have no choice but to live with it and deal with it. This can be achieved by telling their children about bad content on the internet.
“Parents also need to educate themselves about the content their children watch or read online to understand their children’s trends and interests. Parental control over children’s online activities is a must these days due to the high volumes of bad content targeting children online, which can affect them mentally and physically in negative ways, ”he said.
Al-Obaidy stressed that parents should play a role in choosing the right online content for their children, especially younger ones.
“The Internet is a very useful tool when used properly for education and entertainment. But if not used properly, it can seriously harm children. Having a meaningful discussion with your kids about the dangers of online weather is always a better solution than just monitoring their online activities.
“Personally, I prefer not to monitor but inform my children about the risks and dangers online, this is the best solution in my opinion, as it will make children more confident in their parents as they do not infringe on their privacy, this that children enjoy a lot and this, in turn, will encourage children to report all their online activities to their parents, ”he added.
Maha Al-Balawi, a parent in Riyadh, told Arab News: “I am happy to have an option that helps me control what my children watch. But that’s not always useful, especially with YouTube, as I can’t control which video game ads appear every few minutes. Most of them are inappropriate and can be violent.
Mennatallah Elmeligie, teacher at an international school in Riyadh, said: “As a teacher in the current pandemic crisis, I would personally say that I appreciate how gadget-friendly children today are. It is a question, of course, of pros and cons.
“Kids these days take responsibility for posting homework, checking out their material online, and sometimes even using technology in different activities. “
In our online courses, we have taken advantage of this by incorporating online games, which we call play-based learning. Taking advantage of children’s tech-savvy helps them add a pinch of fun while learning at the same. time in a game-based setting.
“The kids already know how to get into the games because we provide them with the necessary access details, and they can play with the whole class, or it can even go beyond that by assigning it as homework.
“Before the pandemic, this idea may have seemed crazy and crazy, which is why it is always important to believe that children are beings and not futures. When we treat children like beings, we give them a chance to ‘learn in a way that uses their abilities and skills and upgrade this step at a time.
“As a mom, I try to keep my child in a kid-friendly online environment, using specific apps, sitting next to her while she checks things and reducing as much as possible the time spent in front of the screen. Without the help of specific screen time activities, coupled with my supervision, I can’t imagine things going so well during the pandemic, ”Elmeligie added.