My recent work in the Middle East has helped me to understand the concerns parents in Arab countries share with many parents in the western world, regarding the ways social media is shaping our culture, and the ways their children engage with others.
One difference that many may not know is that the Arab countries are the biggest users of social media in the world! Their use far outweighs countries such as USA and Australia.
This high use however is leading to huge challenges for families. The very nature of social media is that it encourages widespread and constant connection with others. As a result, significant issues are occurring for families and schools because social media use does not align with the Arab culture and their expectations for young people’s social interactions.
The ways children deal with privacy online is a huge global concern. Our concerns however in each country are shaped by the different cultural ideas and expectations of privacy.
At this stage the resources available for parents and educators are a one size fits all. Our next step needs to be a the development of cyber safety resources that acknowledge varying cultural distinctions for supporting children and technology.