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I think that mobile devices are the worst nightmare of any parents. From smartphones to tables and iPads, we are all trying to keep up with the technology but in the same time to protect our kids from too long screen time. Indeed, we are a generation who grew up without any of these and don't really know how to react. It is a real challenge nowadays as even homework can be done on mobile devices and there are so many apps that can engage the kids in a useful and educational way that is very confusing when it comes about time spent in front of the screen. And let's be honest, a smartphone or a tablet is a life saver when going to a restaurant or having to keep the children busy in a public place or at home to have some chores done.
Internet is not a mystery anymore for kids and they all know about sending voice or written messages, an easy way to communicate these days. I don't really think they will have to write a letter and mail it ever again and I had great fun reading a book with my daughter about having a "pen friend". YouTube is my kids' favorite channel, watching other people building Lego, unwrapping chocolate eggs or playing with dolls. Yep, they could do all these for real but apparently is more fun watching other people.
With all these new trends in mind, Norton by Symantec commissioned the research firm Edelman Intelligence to do the My First Device Research Report, an online survey of 6,986 parents aged 18+ years old, with children aged 5-16 across 10 markets as following: 5,974 European parents ages 18+ across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Poland and the United Kingdom. The Middle East sample reflects input from 1,012 parents ages 18+ across the United Arab Emirates and the KSA. This 10-minute survey was in fieldwork between the 10th and the 20th of August 2018. The margin of error for the total sample is +/-.5%. Throughout the survey, they asked about connected devices when referring to smartphones or tablets that are connected to the internet and excluded from this specification are tablets or other devices designed specifically for young children.
What the research found regarding the UAE is that "children in the UAE desire mobile screen time more than candy or sweets. Further, children in the UAE spend more time in front of a mobile screen than playing outdoors, with more than one-quarter of parents saying their child or children spend more time than the parents spend online. On average across the UAE, children spend close to two and half hours of their leisure time on mobile devices every day, close to an hour longer than the average amount of time spent playing outdoors". Actually, this doesn't come as a surprise taking into consideration the climate we have to put up with here. When more than 6 months per year, spending time outside is next to impossible, there is no surprise that kids spend more time in front of their screens. Of course, there are alternatives like playing, reading or going to playdates but also these are kind of time limited, too. Probably this is also one of the causes why the kids in UAE are the youngest to receive a mobile device. "Norton’s research shows that parents are giving in to pester power, as on average children in the UAE are getting their first device at seven- three years younger than parents feel their children should be allowed one. In the United Arab Emirates the difference is one of the greatest across EMEA, on average, children in other markets receive their first device only one year earlier than when parents feel they should have them" shows the research. Well, my daughters don't really have their own devices but my youngest, at 5 years old, knows very well where to find YouTube on my phone and on the tablet.
We also have to take into consideration the bad example offered by the parents. If we have our smartphones attached to our hands, the kids will have the same. The copy what we do and telling them off when we are constantly checking Facebook, WhatsUp and whatever else can be very frustrating. The good part is that parents realize this and according to the study 78% admit that they are setting a bad example and 53% admitted that kids answer back bringing up their behavior, "highlighting how today’s families are struggling to enforce healthy screen time routines in an increasingly connected world", it says in the research. But there are also good news as the parents are willing to do something about it but the problem is that they don't really know what and how. The research shows that "Almost three out of four parents in the UAE (71%) say they want to set limits and parental controls on connected devices, the highest number across EMEA, but they don’t know how to go about doing this, while 82 per cent want more advice and support to help them protect their children online, also the highest across EMEA".
Here are some practical tips to help parents better manage device use, tips suggested by Norton:
Establish house rules and guidelines: these can include setting limits to screen time, the type of content a child accesses online or the appropriate tone of language to use online. These rules should vary depending on your children’s age, maturity and understanding of the risks they could face online. Encourage your children to go online in communal spaces: it's about striking a balance where they don’t feel that you are constantly looking over their shoulder and don’t feel like they need to hide to go online. It will help put your mind at ease about what they are doing, and they’ll know they can come to you if they are confused, frightened or concerned.Encourage and maintain an open and ongoing dialogue with your children on Internet use and experiences, including cyberbullying. For helpful information on talking with your children about digital dangers, check out Norton’s Cyber Safety for Kids resources page. Encourage kids to think before they click: whether they're looking at online video sites, receiving an unknown link in an email or even browsing the web, remind your child not to click on links, which may take them to dangerous or inappropriate sites. Clicking unknown links is a common way people get viruses or reveal private and valuable information about themselves.Look out for harmful content: from websites to apps, games and online communities, your kids have access to a lot of content that can affect them both positively and negatively. Using smart family security and parental web safety tools, as well as the built-in security settings in your browsers, can help the whole family stay safe. Discuss the risks of posting and sharing private information, videos, and photographs –Be a good role model. Children are likely to imitate their parents' behaviour, so lead by example.
Photo from Pexels.
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Starting October, all mums have their dedicated day at Laguna Waterpark, every Sunday from 8.30am to 12pm. Priced at just AED99 for mums and AED49 for aqua babies aged two to six (children under two are free), Mamas and their bubs will get entry into Laguna Waterpark, giving them exclusive access to the star kids attractions including the AquaPlay and the Splash Pad, until the rest of the waterpark opens at 10am.
The offer for mums come with breakfast, too, from 8.30am to 10am. Laguna Mamas are also treated to a breakfast buffet, featuring a selection of fresh juices, tea and coffee, omelettes, croissants and fresh fruits, while the kids are entertained with face painting, balloon bending and plenty of splash time.
Parents can unleash their inner child and take part in all the wet fun, or indulge in some much needed down-time whilst topping up on a healthy dose of Vitamin D and reconnecting with friends. All loungers in the kids area at Laguna Waterpark have clear sightlines into the rides and an army of professional lifeguards keeping a firm eye on the young ones as they burn off some energy on the interactive water attractions.
For the toddlers, Laguna’s Splash Pad serves as a sensory explosion, consisting of a range of interactive elements including splash pools, squirting water, rain and much more. Alternatively, the AquaPlay (suitable for children two-years and up) is guaranteed to be a splash with the kiddos, consisting of plenty of educational features, fun waterslides and a giant “soaker” bucket equivalent to 44 bathtubs!
Laguna Waterpark is located at beachfront hotspot La Mer. For more information and to book tickets visit www.lagunawaterpark.com
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The UAE’s favourite adventurous little girl Masha and her retired circus bear sidekick are coming to Marina Mall Abu Dhabi from August 21 to 23 to entertain kids and families alike.
Bringing the fantasy to life over Eid al-Adha, Masha and the Bear will certainly get everyone in the mood for a summer party, combining theatre, music and dance together with dress-up photo opportunities, crafts, and other activities and games in an immersive world suitable for youngsters to early teens.
Masha and the Bear will take children on a thrilling adventure for the three days of Eid-al-Adha at 4:30pm, 6pm and 7:30pm daily. Visitors to the mall are guaranteed to be wowed by the amazing acrobatic performances. Each 30-minute live show will also include sing-a-long and dance to the much-loved tunes inspired by the Russian fairy tales.
Tickets are priced at AED 10 for the stand, while Marina Mall customers can also enjoy the show for free if they prefer to stand. For AED 20, fans of the popular cartoon show can get access to the VIP seating area in addition to the chance to go backstage for 15 minutes to meet the characters and take pictures with them.
Marina Mall Abu Dhabi is open daily from 10:00am to 10:00pm on weekdays and 10:00am to 12:00am on weekends.
For more information, please call 800 6623 or visit www.marinamall.ae.
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All the little ones out there can cheer up and look forward to a fun filled summer as Cartoon Network’s popular comic characters Ben 10 and the Powerpuff Girls - Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup - have arrived at Dubai Marina Mall.
Dubai Marina Mall will host an entertaining interactive event until September 8, 2018, featuring live stage shows and activations with the cool & mischievous Ben 10 and the super powered girls - Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup.
Kids can also enjoy an augmented reality experience that allows them to interact with their heroes, as well as go wild at the interactive photo-booths and fun games. They will get a chance to take pictures with the Cartoon Network superstars and can create their own Powerpuff Girl on a magnetic wall.
So head to Dubai Marina Mall or you’ll miss the exciting themed activations that are a must visit this summer.
For more information, visit www.dubaimarinamall.com, or phone 04 436 1020.
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