38 percent of parents in Middle East struggle to protect their children online

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Children need parental supervision during their online activities. (Shutterstock)
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Children need parental supervision during their online activities. (Shutterstock)
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Children need parental supervision during their online activities. (Shutterstock)
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Children need parental supervision during their online activities. (Shutterstock)
Updated 10 February 2019
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38 percent of parents in Middle East struggle to protect their children online

  • Controlling children’s use of the internet is difficult nowadays, but generally, children under 6 years should not use it
  • Preventing or setting up programs for protection is necessary, but that is not enough if there is no supervision by adults

RIYADH: While more than half of children between the ages of 6 and 9 use the internet every day, 38 percent of parents in the Middle East feel they cannot control what their children access online.
This leaves many at risk of viewing inappropriate content, becoming victims of cyberbullying, or sharing private data unintentionally, and such is the changing landscape of the web that many parents do not know how to cope.
The internet has done wonders for bridging cultures, facilitating business and improving education. But it is still a dangerous place for the uninitiated. And, as children become more technologically advanced than their parents, when still at a vulnerable stage in their development, this provides challenges for those trying to protect them.
Dr. Afnan Abdul Fattah, an orthodontic specialist at Taibah University, is a mother of two young daughters, 5 and 8 years old, and has experienced this disparity first hand.
“I do not know how to use the smart TV anymore because it is more complicated, but the TV is very simple for my children to use. They know how to switch from YouTube to cable channels and to Netflix. Sometimes I need them to do that for me,” she said.
“There are things that I do differently, if I search in Google I would type the things that I want to search for, whereas my daughter would use Siri or the microphone. She is using a faster approach, so I do really think children are advancing quite rapidly in terms of their use of technology.”
Many parents, at a loss for how to keep pace, often find themselves powerless to rein in their children’s web time.
Dr. Aisha Karman, a psychologist, believes some parents are simply not aware of the risks posed by excessive use of the internet to children.
“Controlling children’s use of the internet is difficult nowadays, but generally, children under 6 years should not use it. When children enter sites such as YouTube, there may be inappropriate clips that they might be exposed to, and without the supervision of a parent the internet is dangerous,” she said.
“Preventing or setting up programs for protection is necessary, but that is not enough if there is no supervision by adults.”
Karman believes determining time limits is important for children under the age of 12. In fact, she believes that even adults should minimize their use of internet, as it can lead to addiction.

Strong family ties
The most important thing in a young child’s life though, Karman explains, is a healthy relationship between children and their parents.
“The golden rule of any problem within the family is the ability of the parents to embrace the child, approach them and provide a good amount of love and attention. The root of protecting a child is to protect feelings and to communicate, not to make children fear their parents or fear being punished or threatened. This is the language that will protect them,” she said.
“Children should be allowed to use the internet, but must have clear boundaries. If parents are not role models for their children, there will be no clear path for their children to follow.”

Communication
As well as setting boundaries and leading by example, Karman also feels that parents must listen to their children to modify their behavior. Fighting boredom, meanwhile, is key to stopping overstimulation online, and providing suitable alternatives that satisfy children’s interests will decrease the time they spend on the internet.
“I believe that the behavior of parents with their children is the key to persuading them. I was keen to involve myself with what my children are doing or watching or playing. So I can focus on the outcomes of my children’s behavior and fix what needs to be fixed,” she added.


Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

Updated 19 April 2019
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Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

  • Finance representatives of 150 government bodies meet for the Budget Forum 2020

RIYADH: Saudi finance chiefs have kicked off a major conference in the capital aimed at mapping out the Kingdom’s budget requirements.
Around 300 specialists representing 150 government bodies met at the InterContinental hotel in Riyadh for the Budget Forum 2020.
Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan welcomed delegates to the second edition of the gathering organized by the Saudi Finance Ministry under the slogan “Partnership and Empowerment.”
Al-Jadaan said the ministry was focused on “partnership and commitment,” and sought to share the challenge of developing an effective budget to achieve the Kingdom’s ambitious goals.
“We are also committed to empowering financial leaderships to learn about the ministry’s programs and projects and provide training and qualification opportunities to the best international standards,” he added.
The finance chief said the budget planning process required the collaboration of multiple authorities and a clear strategy based on transparency. 
Items up for discussion at the forum included financial planning in governmental bodies, automation, and the promotion of revenues and efficient spending.
Finance Ministry steering committee chairman, Abdul Aziz bin Saleh Al-Freih, stressed the importance of the forum in getting the ball rolling at an early stage on formulating a general state budget.
Workshops were held on the sidelines of the conference focused on empowering government organizations, and a training program on financial planning and income estimations was also staged.