According to the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC), 85% of children in Qatar aged between nine and 18 use the internet. Most of these children have been using digital devices since before they could read or write, and it’s no surprise that they are often referred to as “digital natives”.
Meanwhile many of us parents grew up in a world that seems light years away from today’s always-connected age: we used landline numbers that we had to memorise, had pen pals, and our childhood pictures are likely in a tin box or photo album somewhere in our parents’ attic. By the time we came into contact with technology as our children know it, we were adults with our own set of values and ethics based on an analogue world.
Having our own in-house IT department might have its benefits, but it doesn’t make parenting any easier: we are tasked with teaching digital natives to be responsible digital citizens in an ever-changing online environment that we may not fully grasp but which is an essential part of their life.
What is a “responsible digital citizen”?
According to Common Sense Media, an independent nonprofit organisation dedicated to helping kids safely manoeuvre technology and media, being a good digital citizen is more than just knowing how to surf the internet. It’s about using technology safely and responsibly, and being equipped with the knowledge of how to handle cyberbullying, internet safety and other digital issues.