UAE: Parents urged to teach children to stay safe against online threats

UAE: Parents urged to teach children to stay safe against online threats

UAE authorities have called on parents to ensure better care for children in view of the increasing use of the Internet. Online predators appear to be targeting children through social media and indulging in cybercrimes such as bullying, blackmailing, sexually harassing and threatening children.

Therefore, officers at Abu Dhabi Police have reiterated the need for parents to take good care of children in order to protect them from the dangers of cybercriminals. 

A lecture was organised titled “Protecting our children...a social responsibility” as part of the police’s Ramadan councils. Addressing the lecture, Major Ghaida Ali Abdullah from the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) underlined the importance of protecting children from the dangers of the virtual world, including fraudsters and scammers who can bully and threaten children over the Internet. 

He stressed the need for teaching children how to protect themselves while spending time on the Internet. Children must be taught the Dos and Don’ts of using the Internet along with safeguarding their online accounts from hacking. Other ways could include setting a different secret code for each account and avoiding downloading any files without scanning them for viruses. 

Capt. Yaqoub Yousef Al Hammadi from CID also shared various ways through which children can be protected from the dangers of the Internet, including the use of parental control monitoring programs by parents on children's devices.

He explained that these parental control tools work through control rules which can be helping in monitoring the activities of the children on the Internet. 

Authorities also pointed out that children and teens are vulnerable to cyber predators on social media applications such as Snapchat, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. 

Speaking in this regard, Egyptian father Ramadan Mohammed said that his son and daughter attending grades 9 and 10 have never shared any incident of online threat or cyberbullying with him as he has always monitored their online activities and taught them the Dos and Donts of being on the Internet. 

“I always tell my children about the dangers of online criminals and never to chat with strangers while on social media,” he said.

Cyber security awareness part of school curriculum

Allison McDonald, Principal of Al Basma British School, Al Bahya in Abu Dhabi, underlined that the school is teaching online safety as part of its curriculum to children. 

In addition, there is a 'Bullying week' and focus on e-safety to ensure that students are updated about the measures needed for positive use of the Internet. 

"These are always scheduled towards the start of the school year so that students are made aware early on. This then allows us as a school to have reminders and reviews throughout the year. We further have workshops for parents to be involved and active so that they too can be made aware of the risks, and be enabled to make informed choices," she added.

The school also subscribes to the National Online Safety platform of UK's National Education Group. It is a dedicated programme designed to generate content and resources for teachers, parents and students.

“These resources are colourful and easy to read and digest and remind readers of important features like age-appropriate gaming, viewing extra,” she said.

Neeraj Bhargava, Principal of Abu Dhabi Indian School, noted that cyber attackers are posing a huge risk to the moral values of students. Children are often vulnerable to cases of cyberbullying and sexting, Bhargava added.

“What children are doing online has more bearing on their well being than how much time they spend online. It also includes hateful, harmful, or illegal content as well as disinformation,” he said.

Abu Dhabi Indian School is guiding students for positive online screen time under which the average screen time must not exceed 5 hours a day for students between eight and 12 years. Also, the screen time must not exceed 10 hours for High school students.

“At Abu Dhabi Indian School, we ensure that cybersecurity awareness is a necessary life skill, webinars and assemblies are conducted at regular intervals to equip children against online risks. To overcome the health and moral challenges, well-being sessions are conducted during the homeroom period,” the school principal added. 

The school is also providing online sessions to guide parents to block explicit or disturbing content and apps on students’ smartphones and other devices. 

Anna Pagdiwalla, principal Mayoor School Abu Dhabi said that the school is conducting regular awareness sessions for students to train them on online safety as well as cyberbullying, fishing emails and other threats. 

Reporting cybercriminals

Authorities have called on the community members to report online criminals to Aman service. It is a dedicated security communication channel that receives information on (security, community, and traffic). It operated around the clock through the toll-free number 8002626 (AMAN2626) or by text messages (2828) or via e-mail ([email protected]) or through the smart application of the Abu Dhabi Police General Command.


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