Keep­ing kids pro­tected in our wired world is one of so­ci­ety’s big­gest chal­lenges. But away from omi­nous head­lines and scary stats, what are the is­sues we re­ally need to fo­cus on and how can par­ents and schools work to­gether to tackle them?

7 Days in Dubai - - SPECIAL REPORT -

ech ad­dic­tion, cy­ber bul­ly­ing, un­suit­able ma­te­rial on­line… cy­ber safety can seem an over­whelm­ing topic for par­ents, at­tract­ing more than its fair share of fright­en­ing sto­ries and warn­ings.

With smart­phones, in­stant mes­sag­ing, tablets, so­cial me­dia, on­line gam­ing and more, to­day’s youth can have ac­cess to - and are ac­ces­si­ble by - many mil­lions of peo­ple world­wide. A daunt­ing thought.

But tech­nol­ogy is in­te­gral to every­thing we do - and a hugely im­por­tant tool for learn­ing. So how do you keep your chil­dren pro­tected, while also al­low­ing them to em­brace tech and all the won­der­ful en­hance­ments it brings?

Jamil Ezzo is Direc­tor Gen­eral of ICDL Ara­bia, the re­gional branch of a global in­sti­tu­tion es­tab­lished to spread dig­i­tal lit­er­acy around the world. He says, that while it might seem tempt­ing to go down the ‘ban and re­strict’ route to pro­tect our young­sters, be­ing open-minded is a more a vi­able op­tion.

“You can­not make your chil­dren stay at home the whole time be­cause you are scared of them get­ting into an ac­ci­dent or a fight,” Ezzo says. “It’s the same thing with tech­nol­ogy. The internet is part of our every­day life. With­out the internet, kids can’t learn as ef­fec­tively or be com­pet­i­tive with other chil­dren. If you ban them from us­ing tech­nol­ogy you are ba­si­cally re­mov­ing a very im­por­tant part of mod­ern life.

“The way to deal with it is to be very ed­u­cated as an adult. You need to be aware what the po­ten­tial is­sues and threats are and pass on that knowl­edge to your chil­dren.”

That re­quires recog­nis­ing ex­ist­ing is­sues and talk­ing about them openly at all lev­els - within fam­i­lies, schools and at a gov­ern­men­tal level.

“One of the ma­jor parts of com­bat­ing a prob­lem is to ad­mit that there is a prob­lem,” and it’s all within a safe en­vi­ron­ment.

“The vast ma­jor­ity of tech­nol­ogy can be used to en­hance learn­ing but it’s im­por­tant we know who is us­ing it, how we can put

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