UAE Youth Taking the Lead in Ensuring Online Safety for Their Generation

Fifteen children and youth, who are part of the ‘Cyber Safety Ambassadors’, an initiative by Sharjah’s Child Safety Department (CSD), participated in an interactive discussion to suggest innovative ideas and solutions for children’s online safety.

The session was organised by CSD, a subsidiary of Sharjah’s Sharjah Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), in collaboration with the National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing as part of its ‘Child Digital Safety’ initiative, which is a joint effort by the Programme and the Ministry of Interior.

Moderated by Amal Al Blooshi, Manager of the Digital Wellbeing Project at the National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing, Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Director of CSD and Nahla Hamdan Al Saadi, Head of Programmes and Events at CSD, the session encouraged young Cyber Safety Ambassadors to suggest innovative ideas and solutions for safe internet usage, which can be applied by their peers and generations to come.

Designing a safe digital environment for children to enhance their wellbeing
Amal Al Blooshi stressed that the session allowed children and youth to share their ideas and aspirations on dealing with challenges in the digital world, highlighting the importance of enabling children to use technology safely and responsibly while instilling positive values and behaviours.

“We listened to children’s views and ideas and benefitted from their insights on how to design a safer digital environment for themselves, which in turn ensures their digital wellbeing,” Al Blooshi said.

Al Blooshi added that the session is in line with the goals of the “Child Digital Safety” initiative which seek to promote positive digital communities and contribute to shaping the awareness of the digital generation, which accounts for more than 50% of the UAE population. They are better equipped to identify digital risks, thus increasing their efficiency in using technology and reaping its benefits.

Cyber Safety Ambassadors will apply their knowledge through peer-to-peer workshops
Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei said: “Our first collaboration with the National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing’s Child Digital Safety Initiative is in line with our strategic goals to activate partnerships with relevant institutions with which we share our goals and vision”.

Al Yafei added: “Our Cyber Safety Ambassadors have come out of this session with heightened awareness, knowledge and confidence that they will apply in the next phase of our ambassadors programme by presenting peer-to-peer workshops at schools and childcare institutions.”

During the session, Al Blooshi presented the “Child Digital Safety” initiative goals, launched by Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, in March 2019, on Emirati Children’s Day, which include raising children’s and parents’ awareness on the dangers of the internet and social media in particular, and how to protect themselves.

She highlighted the initiative’s four main components, with a focus on its interactive camps, which are organised regularly for children to promote safe online practices.

Participants were then divided into groups where they discussed prime sources of cyber security risks for their age groups, like video games, chat rooms and social media apps.

The ambassadors then charted proposals about how they can educate their peers and community members about best practices and dealing with potential risks when using the internet.

CSD launched the Cyber Safety Ambassadors initiative on March 15, coinciding with Emirati Children’s Day, in collaboration with the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), Ministry of Community Development, Khalifa Empowerment Program (Aqdar), and Sharjah Police Headquarters.

It aims to empower the UAE’s youth to deliver awareness messages to their peers about cyber safety best practices. Participants will receive training as part of the initiative to help enhance their communication and presentation skills.