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59% of Saudi high school girls use Facebook: Study

Social issues dominate, but politics and sports least interesting

Gulf News

Manama: Facebook, the social network, is used by 59 per cent of high school girls in Saudi Arabia, a country ranked 33rd in the world for Facebook use thanks to its 5,906,220 users, a survey has revealed.

According to the study prepared by researcher Fawzia Al Harbi, social issues dominated the chat and posts, while politics and sports were of the least interest.

Internet blackmailing, a growing phenomenon in the Arab world, did not receive a high rating and received little attention by the teenagers mostly aged between 16 and 18, Saudi Arabic daily Al Riyadh reported on Thursday.

According to the research, 62 per cent of the sample of 500 students, from government and private schools in the Saudi capital Riyadh, said that they used the social network to chat with friends while only 2 per cent said they used it to communicate with their teachers.

The findings prompted the researcher to call upon education officials to work on improving the rate for the sake of better learning and teaching standards.

According to the research, less than half of the users (44 per cent) said that they used Facebook to chat with people they did not really know.

Personal gratifications from the use of the social network included achieving better social integration and a more enhanced personal communication, acquiring more knowledge, improving educational levels, reaching a greater awareness of issues and enjoying more entertainment opportunities, the study said.

The students said that the social network enabled them to achieve social satisfactions they could not have reached through the more traditional media.

Al Harbi said that the study, which lasted several months, indicated that Facebook presented to Saudi girls a unique platform where they could speak freely and where they could reject whatever they saw as “inadequate.”

The researcher highlighted that the large number of Saudi teenagers who speak freely on Facebook was related to the ability to sign in under different names and avoid revealing their true identity.

According to the study, Saudi high school girls used Facebook to display creative writing and art talents, tell of their travels and fancy purchases and talk about potential husbands.

More serious chat covered views and opinions on social issues, campaigning for social causes and demanding for more rights.

Ways to improve self-confidence and character-building are also mentioned as issues taken up by Saudi girls in their use of Facebook, the study said.