Why parents should keep their children’s digital environment safe
Sharjah: Children are exposed to numerous risks due to their engagement with social networking sites, an official warned. This concern has escalated for most families, given the ubiquity of electronic devices such as phones, laptops, tablets, and other gadgets accessible to individuals of all ages.
Maryam Al Qaseer, Director of the Social Education Department at the Department of Social Services in Sharjah, said children should utilise social networking sites responsibly, receiving proper guidance on their usage to mitigate potential risks. Emphasizing the family’s pivotal role is crucial in counteracting the adverse consequences of excessive gadget use.
This problem causes the least possible damage, especially since preventing children from using electronic devices has become a fantasy.
Children are vulnerable in this open digital landscape devoid of constraints, and Al-Quseir elucidates methods by which they can shield themselves from its adverse impacts.
On the contrary, children are victims of this digital world, and may even be among those targeted by it. The official stresed that the family has a major role to play in protecting its children from the harms of social media excess.
By setting up parental controls and subscribing to safe internet services, which prevent pornographic content and inappropriate scenes for children, most web search engines have a “Safe Search” feature that allows parents to limit the content their children can access while they are connected to the Internet.
She goes on to say that one of the successful methods is for the mother and father, or both, to participate together in the electronic games that the child plays, and how to provide advice to him in this regard.
Al Qaseer also advises parents to encourage their children to help their friends if they are making bad choices or being harmed and to report incidents to trusted adults. It is also necessary to teach the child how to interact safely with the people they “meet” online and warn them not to view any of the information if they don’t know who they’re playing with.
The child also becomes addicted to using electronics, which affects his sleep pattern. Gadget overuse could disrupt the child's life, unable to wake up in the morning in time to go to school. It may also affect his other activities in society, as well as mental health, which results in an increase in cases of anxiety and depression.
Excessive use of social media also leads to isolation from the outside world which could negatively affect the child’s social development due to long hours of gaming, which leads to him significantly cut face-to-face interaction with others.
His native language is also influenced, causing him to start using profane language as a result of interacting with numerous individuals from diverse nationalities throughout his life. This behavior is exacerbated when he engages in unrestricted electronic gaming accessible to all.
One of the dangerous things is that he is exposed to immoral content that affects his psychological development and may cause psychological trauma when viewed.
Al Qaseer said: “This is what we addressed with some of the cases received. One of them was a 10-year-old girl who was playing on her mobile phone, and suddenly pornographic scenes appeared. The child suffered psychological shock and was no longer able to speak.”
“She remained silent and isolated herself from others of both sexes, even with her mother and father. Thank God we were able to get her out of her isolation. Her family should contain her and not blame her or scream at her, but rather talk to her gently and lovingly to get past and forget the matter.”
In this case, the offciail said, the child should not be blamed because his mental abilities are incomplete and is unable to differentiate between right and wrong. Rather, parents should close all websites that are not appropriate for children and if they are not aware of using them.
There is no harm in enrolling in a training course or searching for it on the Internet, as they offer many useful solutions.
During the exploration stage, Maryam Al-Qaseer explains the impact of websites and electronic games on children. She notes that this phase typically starts at the age of six when children begin to show interest in and curiosity about electronic devices, particularly the enticing and colourful world of electronic games, complete with captivating visuals and music.
This developmental stage coincides with the child’s socialization period. Without proper guidance and attention from the family, the child may become entrapped in a web of website addiction.
As the child’s social interactions and exploratory tendencies continue to grow, electronic games take center stage due to their allure. These games require the child to select powerful characters, weapons, and costumes, further immersing them in a virtual world.
Unfortunately, many electronic games revolve around themes of violence, defense, weaponry, and warfare. These themes gradually become ingrained in the child’s personality, as they adopt destructive methods from these games.
Consequently, the child may exhibit aggression in their interactions instead of learning essential social skills from peers and their natural environment.