Children today are raised in the digital world at the quick pace of social media. They have the whole world in the palms of their hands, exploring infinite amounts of content from around the world. While all this opens exciting opportunities, it may also be the most dangerous form of peer pressure.
The number of influencers on social media is at an all-time high, and the most popular are surely not the best influence that we would choose for our children. We cannot control what our kids see, and perhaps we should not, but if left unguided, they may not know how to choose a suitable path themselves. We can go to great lengths in raising them well, but a few hours on social media can undo months of hard work.
The way I see it, kids can either become influencers, or be influenced. So how can we protect them from the negative effects of their surroundings? I believe that a role model, one that serves as a reference from which they can derive positive attributes, is the way to go — and if I had to pick one person as that role model, I would choose Princess Reema bint Bandar.
Princess Reema’s life is a testimony to the idea of being a positive influencer. A person who stands true to principles and morals in all environments; who can see right from wrong, and learn from different cultures without losing her own identity. She was privileged to have a life that allowed her all the luxuries of the world, from the fanciest of restaurants to the grandest cars and most magnificent palaces. Yet, she never lost her modesty.
It is important for a child to have a strong and successful role model, but it is also crucial for us to help them build strong characters.
Her upbringing and education were in the US, but she never forgot what it means to be Saudi. Princess Reema managed to mix that concrete base with a flexible, open mind, which gave her the best of both worlds. From the West, she learned to be tolerant of all cultures, but she remained loyal to her own culture and proud of her roots.
Aside from where she grew up, the family she grew up in was enough of a challenge in itself. Her father is Prince Bandar, the former Saudi ambassador to the US and one of the wittiest and most diplomatic ambassadors, and her grandparents were King Faisal and Queen Effat. Yet, despite the rich history of her family, Princess Reema insisted on making a name for herself by hard work and continuous learning.
After time spent in the world of business, she moved on to a career in the public sector where she served her country in multiple positions. Her eloquent nature and hard work were recognized as she became the first Saudi female ambassador in 2019, when she, like her father, was posted to represent the Kingdom in the US.
Her life is a true inspiration, especially to other women. Princess Reema understood just how much influence she had on females of all ages. This is why she was heavily invested in social activities to help women in the workplace through her collaboration with Glowork, and in teaching women about financial self-sufficiency through founding Alf Khair.
She became an icon for female empowerment, and this was recognized by her being featured in the Forbes “200 Most Powerful Arab Women” list.
I see Princess Reema as an excellent example of an influencer. She worked hard, influencing her environment by changing it for the better, and influencing people by inspiring them to do more.
It is important for a child to have a strong and successful role model, but it is also crucial for us to help them build strong characters. We need to make sure our children are capable of thinking and developing independently. That way, they can become positive influencers instead of being negatively influenced.
But what about you? Who do you see as the right person for that role? The icon that our children can learn from? Share your opinion with us at the hashtag #TrueSaudiInfluencers.
• Effat Alsaraj is a multimedia storyteller, media advisor and an inventor.