Thursday 13 August 2020 - 7:29:26 am

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed launches ‘Child Digital Safety’ to enhance children safety, quality of digital life

ABU DHABI, 16th March 2019 (WAM) - H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, asserted that the UAE under the wise leadership is adamant in its efforts to enhance digital life safety and protect citizens from online threats.

The focus of the National Agenda for Wellbeing on the quality of digital life reflects that, and constitute a response for a need in the community and a core support for the fathers, mothers and the community at large.

This was announced during the launching of the "Child Digital Safety" initiative – a joint effort between the Ministry of Interior and the National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing which aims to raise awareness among children and school students about online threats and challenges, and promote a safe and constructive use of the internet. It also familiarises parents and educators with solutions they can use to address these challenges and ensure the safety of their children and students.

He went on to note that the safety and dignity of our children through the digital world is the basis of citizens wellbeing in the UAE, in addition to the stability of the community and the positive citizenship, and the ability to raise generations capable to understand and deal with the digital world in a positive and informed way. He also noted that the National Program for Happiness and Wellbeing is a clear example on how the UAE is pioneering initiatives that aim to instil wellbeing across all segments of the society.

"The UAE leads the world in terms of internet and smartphone penetration," H.H. Sheikh Saif stated, "and this calls for developing a sophisticated digital safety net for our children. The UAE Government is committed to maintaining family stability and social cohesion, and children are at the top of its agenda. Their safety is key for promoting overall wellbeing in the United Arab Emirates, maintaining social stability, empowering positive and active citizens, and raising generations with a firm grasp on the digital world."

Ohood Al Roumi – Enhancing the quality of digital life and raising positive generations For her part, Ohoud bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, said: "Enhancing digital wellbeing is essential for promoting overall wellbeing in the wider community, and online safety is a key component in that regard. To ensure safe and secure access to the internet and smart applications, all while preventing online abuse, individuals need to be made aware of these threats and well equipped to address them."

"Establishing a safe digital environment for children and empowering them to securely use technology reflect positively on the wider community and its wellbeing," H.E. Al Roumi added. "This new initiative is a powerful instrument for instilling positive values and behaviour among our children and guiding them to safely explore the internet and social networking platforms.

She also noted that enhancing digital wellbeing is a strategic objective of the National Agenda for Wellbeing, which aims to establish a safe digital environment and create positive online communities."

The Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing went on to assert that the UAE Government is working diligently to improve online experiences, train individuals to adopt a balanced approach towards the digital world, and help establish a positive digital citizenship model, rooted in developing healthy relationships with technology and digital platforms, and opting for positive online content.

"The ‘Child Digital Safety’ initiative, launched in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior on UAE Children’s Day, builds on the existing government efforts to empower communities to face digital threats, offering instruments and solutions for parents to ensure their children’s safety and steer them towards constructive content," she concluded.

Empowering the Community, Maintaining Digital Safety The "Child Digital Safety" initiative seeks to help parents protect their children, ensure their online safety, and monitor their exposure to websites and social networking platforms. It targets children aged 5 to 18 and seeks to educate them on how to safely and constructively use the internet, and how to deal with potential abuse or risks.

The joint initiative comes as a continuum of series of leading projects led by the federal government ministries, with a bundle of initiatives launched by Ministry of Interior targeting the enhancement of children protection starting by MOI Child Protection Center, Child Protection Hotline, Hemayati smart application for the reporting of crimes against children in addition to NIDAA Smart Alert System. Furthermore, Ministry of Interior sponsors programs such as AQDAR of Khalifa Student Empowerment Program and AQDAR World Summit and similar programs that fall under the umbrella of the Ministry of Interior in partnership with relevant entities operating in the field of youth and children protection.

This said, the strategy of the Ministry of Interior aims for the UAE becomes the safest place in the world, and its initiatives cover all segments of the society, and it dedicates a special attention to the children, who are the future of the country, through its various centers operating in that space. In that context, it has dedicated the yearly day of civil defence to the children as "Our Children Our Responsibilities", and has consistently ensured to cooperate with various entities covering the children cause The Child Digital Safety initiative was launched on UAE Children’s Day on March 15 and reflects the UAE Government’s awareness of the difficulties parents face in teaching their children to safely use technology, applications, social networking platforms, and other digital and online products. This initiative is considered as the first in a series of steps to be undertaken to raise digitally literate generations, capable of positively navigating the digital world The UAE leads the world in terms of internet and smartphone penetration and this calls for developing a sophisticated digital safety net for our children. The UAE Government is committed to maintaining family stability and social cohesion, and children are at the top of its agenda and the government aims to enable them to safely use the digital world, and the UAE is a pioneer country in developing initiatives aiming at improving wellbeing across various aspects.

The joined initiative aims at raising awareness among children within the 5-18 year old bracket in terms of internet usage, and the way to behave in case they face any harm or potential risk, through proper training for safe online usage, and social media platforms, and smart devices The Child Digital Safety Initiative includes developing educational material on digital safety, and enabling children with global best practices in that domain, and providing advice to parents and teachers around tools to enhance digital safety for their children at home and in the learning environment, through providing proper training to children on safe and positive usage and raising the awareness of teacher and working with partners across relevant sectors to ensure digital safety in the country.

Four initiatives to enhance digital safety for children This initiative consists of 4 main sub-initiatives, namely: Interactive Children’s Camp, where 5-to-18-year-olds can learn how to safely use the internet and social media; Digital Wellbeing Portal, to provide tools and information to help parents face the challenges of the digital world; Training Workshops, where parents and teachers can be trained to address digital challenges and threats; and a Support Platform to answer urgent queries from parents regarding digital safety.

Digital Life in the UAE The UAE leads the world in terms of internet user penetration at a staggering rate of 98%, as well as smartphone penetration with 82%. It also comes out on top in terms of the penetration of user accounts of Facebook which stands at 83%, frequent users of Whatsapp which are also around 83% of the population, and Instagram account penetration at 53%. The average daily time spent online per person in the UAE is 8 hours, with 3 hours per day on average spent on social media.

WAM/Hassan Bashir/Hatem Mohamed