While media and technology have great promise for learning, children need support and education to learn how to make sound judgments when navigating the digital world. School administrators and educators are being faced with overwhelming challenges, such as those related to privacy, digital footprints, cyber bullying, and online exploitation & abuse.Schools can play a critical role by educating, empowering, and engaging children with the best practices around technology use. Schools have an obligation to provide students with the tools they require to function effectively in a digitally literate society. By supporting students to develop as successful digital citizens, schools are in a position to provide competency framework for learning the values, behaviors and skills required to contribute meaningfully in an increasingly online world while ensuring students have the knowledge and ability to successfully manage the inevitable challenges of the internet. According to the latest statistics, a whopping 99.06% of the UAE population remains active on social media. In the year 2019, 9.52 million people came online on social media almost every day out of a population of 9.61 million people. Almost 82% of the UAE’s population has profiles on Facebook while YouTube’s penetration also stands at 82%. (Ref: Globalmedia insight 2019)
A staggering 7 out of 10 or 69.7% of students in the UAE use social media for five hours or more every day, according to a study conducted by a team of students from the Canadian University Dubai, which was published in August 2019. eSafe advocates for a unified, standardized and comprehensive digital citizenship policy to be developed and implemented in all the UAE schools by recognizing the important role of education in preparing digital citizens. By fostering a culture of successful digital citizenship in our students, educators and our wider community we can encourage everyone to take responsibility for themselves and others in their use of ICTs.