The Child Safety Department (CSD), an affiliate of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA) in Sharjah, recently hosted Cyber Safety Debate in Al Jada, Sharjah, to stimulate a discussion among its Cyber Safety Ambassadors on varied aspects of safe internet usage and the role of parents in guiding and educating children on the risks of cyber bullying and online blackmail, to mark the internationally observed ‘Safer Internet Day’.
Addressing four critical domains of internet safety, the session was moderated by media personality Nabil Ayoub, and hosted CSD’s Cyber Safety Ambassadors, members of Sharjah Youth, and Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah.
In her opening speech at the event, Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Director of the Child Safety Department (CSD), observed that Safer Internet Day is an ideal occasion to raise awareness on the importance of cyber safety, adding that the debate would enable participants to collaborate and brainstorm innovative ways to ensure a safer and more responsible use of online technology by children and young people.
She added: “We expect the Cyber Safety Ambassadors participating in the debate to take full advantage of the skills they have acquired and to shed light on the importance of internet safety and raise awareness among their peers of the fundamentals of safeguarding oneself online, especially in light of the growing use of technology in education and entertainment.”
An educational experience
The debate served as a learning opportunity for all participants in enhancing their understanding about the risks associated with the internet, informed them on ways to protect their social media accounts, and corrected common misconceptions about the safety of the digital environment.
Participants were grouped into two, with the ‘Sarah Team’ led by HE Hanadi Al Yafei, Director of CSD, and consisting of Batoul Al Tamimi, Mayed Al Murr, Nemat Ismail, Saif Al Suwaidi, Al Jazia Al Zaabi, and Moza Al Mazroui, speaking in favor of the four topics under discussion. The ‘Rashid Team’ led by Abdullah Al Zarouni, Senior Information Security Analyst at the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), took the opposing view, and consisted of Salama Al Tunaji, Naima Obaid, Abdulaziz Al Amiri, Rashid Al Tunaji, Rashid Al Ketbi, and Tabarakallah Reda.
Internet safety for children
The debate covered four key topics related to cyber safety. In the first segment, ‘Flexibility of using Internet programmes and applications’, participants discussed the role of parents in protecting children online and the benefits of parental control on content. The segment also highlighted data about parental perceptions on monitoring and regulation of internet usage for children.
The second topic, ‘Reducing screen time’, tackled the role of the family in establishing clearly defined rules for internet usage to help children strike the right balance between the digital and physical worlds, and encourage them to read, learn and make the most of their time offline.
Protecting children from internet addiction
The third topic addressed the ‘Advantages and disadvantages of modern means of communication’, and their role in facilitating the exchange of information and distance learning on the one hand, and the dangers of internet addiction, on the other. The participants also analyzed how internet addiction can disrupt the social lives of children, and debated potential solutions.
In the fourth and final segment, the debaters explored the impact of modern communication technology on the psychological well-being of children, including addiction as well as depression and low self-esteem stemming from comparisons with young social media influencers.
CSD concluded the event by honoring its partners, namely Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, Al Amal School for the Deaf, the administration of Aljada, Sharjah, and moderator Nabil Ayoub.