JEDDAH: With children immersed in the technology of today, ensuring their safety is a hot topic. Many parents have found unique ways to keep a watchful eye on their children’s online activity.
A recent study by cybersecurity company Kaspersky found that 23 percent of parents in Saudi Arabia are unaware of the online media their children consume. Parents in this day and age have to constantly educate themselves to understand what their children are up to and the trends they follow.
According to the survey, 76 percent of children consume vlog content. Of this amount, 71 percent watch content on games and toys, 41 percent watch computer gaming vlogs, 39 percent watch movie content and 37 percent view music-related material.
The issue has caused family conflict across the Kingdom, with 60 percent of parents complaining that their children spend too much time on the internet, and 50 percent saying they do nothing useful online.
Andrey Sdenko, lead web content analyst at Kaspersky, said: “Being digitally educated and involved in social media activities is a must do for a parent nowadays, as the lack of knowledge in this field can trigger some conflicts in the family.”
He added: “In order to understand your child, to be able to communicate with them and discuss certain modern trends of an evolving world, you have to read more and be present on the internet.”
Rafa Saeedi, a working mother of three, cautioned against monitoring children too closely. “You cannot be a hawk all the time; sometimes my kids would lock themselves in their rooms and watch YouTube where I don’t have access to them. Sometimes the same channel that has children’s cartoons will also upload material that is inappropriate even for adults. When this happens, I have to report them constantly,” she said.
She added that she found different means of monitoring her children, such as using the same iCloud account where she can view their search history.
Parents cannot ignore the stark reality that the internet and devices are an important aspect of everyone’s lives these days, children included.
All the mothers that Arab News interviewed agreed on the same point — keeping a constant eye on children is not possible and may damage relationships.
Amal Turkistani, a mother of five, said she tries her best to oversee content, but not in an overbearing manner. She urged vigilance, but said: “These kids are bestowed upon us like a gift; we must preserve them. They shouldn’t know that you are monitoring them because it can affect them.”
Siwar Bandar, a mother of two daughters, said that she definitely monitors her kids.
“A big part of social media evolution over the decade has meant that parents have to be aware of what children are consuming. The question for me isn’t whether they will be exposed to social media or not; the question is how do I raise digitally responsible individuals,” she said. “We had a conversation about how long they want to spend on the internet and what programs they were allowed to watch. I would rather give them a phone when they are older and they shouldn’t be used in the bedroom and in public spaces,” she added.
Turkistani said she set up her son’s gaming area in the living room instead of his bedroom so he can be in an open space where she can watch him without imposing on his private space.
“I don’t recommend leaving children in early development unattended, because they are not aware of what is out there on the internet,” she said.
Some mothers suggested using parental controls on apps to filter and block inappropriate content and set time limits on how long children can stay online.
Rafa Saeedi said she lets her kids watch silly things as long as it is not doing them any harm
“Parents have to keep up with their kids, and be involved with what the kids consume,” she said.
“I am trying my best to be a good mother, but you can not be perfect. Sometimes you are annoying to the children and that is just part of being a mother,” she added.