Parents think social media is good, children think it’s bad – huh?

Here are some interesting stats for you, sent to me in a release from Canon Middle East. More than two-thirds of all UAE parents view social media as a good thing, and reckon it’s useful for communications. On the other hand, a third of children surveyed believe that there are dangers inherent in its use.

The release doesn’t elaborate on what the children reckon those dangers might be, but they’re right of course. It just surprises me that they actually realise this. It also surprises me that parents are so blasé about social media.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an ardent proponent of social media, particularly Facebook – I love it for visual emphasis, its interactivity and the way it works quite literally as your newsfeed to the world.

But we’re still holding out and stopping our own 13-year old from having his own Facebook account. It’s inevitable of course that he will, but as parents who use FB a lot, we know there’s a lot of stuff on there that we’re not sure he’s quite ready for just yet. And then there’s the worry about social media users preying on the young.

Like with anything in life I suppose, you have to know, recognise and accept what you’re getting into before immersing yourself into the world of social media, or you could find that its bite is actually worse than its bark.

The one consolation is that according to this release, none of the children surveyed used Facebook as a tool to connect with people. Hmm… what are they using it for then? To play Farmville?

Despite being in the same group myself – ie a parent – I’m not sure these people surveyed were fully qualified to pass judgement on whether social media is child-friendly or not, considering that 71% still preferred to use the good old telephone, followed by text messages and emails (57%) and only then came Facebook at 50%.

‘While the Internet has provided tremendous benefits to humankind, it has also offered a perfect landscape for mischief and lawlessness.’ says Jamil Ezzo, Director General of the International Computer Driving License program (ICDL) GCC Foundation.

‘Priority has to be set to strengthen the partnership between home and school where strict ground rules are defined for children to use the Internet responsibly. Teachers and parents should collaborate together in protecting children against the various threats posed by the Internet, such as child exploitation, cyber bullying and online addiction,’ he adds.

I agree. Turning a blind eye to what children do on the internet is not an option for parents, not whilst they’re still young.

Professionally speaking though, and more in line with what I do, it’s mostly good news from this survey. Respondents all admitted to regularly visiting social media sites with Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram being ranked the highest in the UAE. A large part of this was thanks to Smartphones.

But it surprises me a little that Canon is holding such conferences since it is Samsung that’s once again stolen the technological march on all its rivals – first Smart TVs hooked-up to the net, and now they have cameras that can take pictures, edit and upload them directly to your social media channels. C’mon Canon, get with this program!

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