School principals during Al Ameen Service session. Image Credit: Courtesy: Dubai Police

Dubai: Dubai Police’s Al Ameen Service organised a session with about 70 school principals to discuss the dangers of unmonitored use of electronic games, audio and texting services which can leave children and teenagers open to dangerous, predatory actions by strangers.

Al Ameen Service urged schools on Wednesday to step up teaching students the dangers of online activities and games, pointing out that they can be used by social predators or terrorist groups to lure and deceive youngsters.

One highly popular game of concern, said experts, is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds — better known as PUBG — ranked the fifth most-popular online video game globally, with more than 50 million units sold.

With many players talking or chatting online on the multiplayer battle game, the platform is open to substantial abuse, said Al Ameen Service experts.

Ahmad Al Harithi, social media expert at Al Ameen service, said that some schools hesitate to alert the service about worrying behaviours or incidents involving students, thinking it will affect the school’s reputation.

Al ameen service session with schools principles dubai police

“We [Al Ameen Service] noticed there is danger to society from the misuse of social media and electronic games. Parents, as well as schools, have a major responsibility to look after their children,” Al Harithi said.

In a recent incident, a six-year-old boy became addicted to an online game as his parents neglected him. His older brother alerted the Al Ameen authority, who contacted the parents and thus solved the problem.

“There must be strict family rules for children playing online games like PUBG. It has an audio chat and strangers can easily speak to children, who spend many hours playing such games,” he added.

Al Harithi said many youngsters don’t have the social awareness to defend themselves against predators or terrorist groups, which sneak into their games to lure them.

“Some games are banned by the country but there are online games which can be downloaded without parents’ knowledge. We do our best to monitor and educate, but we cannot be inside houses or schools. We need the schools and parents to work with us,” Al Harithi said.

Meanwhile, Aisha Al Mansouri, an expert with Al Ameen Service, said that terrorist groups have changed their recruitment methods from social media networks to include blogs and online game sites.

“It is the fourth generation war which aims to destabilise countries by controlling our children and making them adopt their ideologies. That’s what we have spotted in Al Ameen Service,” Al Mansouri said.

What parents can do:

Al Ameen Service advises parents to spend time with their children and share their interests or even play online games with them, to gain a better grasp of their children’s activities.

“Parents should know what their children are doing while playing and can become friends with their children. Parents should know who is on their children’s friends list, and let them play online only with family members, relatives or friends and not with strangers,” Al Harithi said.

Children should be encouraged to pursue more all-round activities, such as sports and family activities, to reduce the time spent using electronic devices.