RIYADH: Almost half of parents in Saudi Arabia use parental control apps to monitor their children’s online activity, a new survey has revealed.
The study into the digital behaviors of families in the Kingdom, conducted by global cybersecurity company Kaspersky, showed that during the COVID-19 pandemic parents had become increasingly concerned about the length of time spent online and the safety of content being viewed by their kids.
Of those parents quizzed for the survey, 49 percent said they used parental control apps, 47 percent regularly checked their children’s internet history, and 58 percent reported that their kids used digital devices under the supervision of either a parent (46 percent) or a family member (12 percent).
Meanwhile, 64 percent wanted to control the videos that children watched, 60 percent the games they played, and 57 percent the sites they visited, while 47 percent of respondents were keen to limit the time kids spent online and using devices throughout the day. More than half (55 percent) of them claimed to discuss healthy digital habits with their children.
The results of the study also showed that parents and family members mainly took responsibility for regulating the behavior of children in the digital space (88 percent). But 47 percent felt teachers and schools should do the job, and 31 percent thought it should be the personal responsibility of children.
A total of 98 percent of parents questioned said they discussed the rules of online behavior and digital etiquette with their kids.
Experts reckon that although children were more technically advanced than previous generations, many remained naive about online security and safety.
Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, adviser and professor of law at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Children’s use of the internet is a daily routine nowadays whether for e-learning due to the pandemic or merely as an entertainment or learning tool.
“So, parents have no choice but to live with it and deal with it. This can be achieved by informing their kids of bad content on the internet.
“Parents must also inquire about the content that their kids watch or read online to understand their kids’ tendencies and interests. Parental control over child online activities is a must nowadays due to the large volumes of bad content targeting kids online which can affect them mentally and physically in a bad way,” he said.
Al-Obaidy pointed out that parents should play a role in choosing appropriate online content for their kids, especially for younger children.
“The internet is a very useful tool when used properly for education and entertainment. But if not used properly, it can badly affect children. Having a meaningful discussion with your kids about the dangers of online time is always the better solution than merely monitoring their online activities.
“Personally, I do not prefer monitoring but informing my kids about online risks and dangers, it is the best solution in my opinion, as this will make kids more trusting of their parents since they don’t infringe on their privacy which kids value a lot and this, in turn, will encourage kids to report to their parents all their online activities,” he added.
Maha Al-Balawi, a parent in Riyadh, told Arab News: “I am glad that I have an option that helps me control what my children watch. But it is not always helpful, especially with YouTube, because I can’t control the video game ads that pop up every few minutes. Most of them are not appropriate and can be violent.”
Mennatallah Elmeligie, a teacher at an international school in Riyadh, said: “As a teacher in the current pandemic crisis, I would personally say I appreciate how gadget-friendly nowadays kids are. It’s a matter, of course, of pros and cons.
“These days kids take responsibility for posting their assignments, checking their online material, and sometimes even use technology in different activities.”
In our online classes we made use of this by integrating online games, which we call game-based learning. Taking advantage of how tech-savvy kids are, helps them add a pinch of fun while learning at the same time in a game-based setting.
“Kids already know how to get into the games as we provide them with the needed access details, and they may play with the whole class, or it can even go beyond by assigning it as homework.
“Pre-pandemic, this idea may have looked wild and crazy, which is why it’s always important to believe in children as beings not becomings. When we treat kids as beings, we give them a chance to learn in a way that makes use of their capabilities and skills and upgrade that one step at a time.
“As a mother, I try to keep my kid in an online child-friendly environment, using specific apps, sitting next to her while she is checking things, and reducing screen time as much as possible. Without the help of specific screen time activities, paired with my supervision, I cannot imagine things going so smoothly during the pandemic,” Elmeligie added.
RIYADH/MANILA: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for the victims of a powerful typhoon that has killed hundreds of people and destroyed thousands of homes in the central and southern regions.
“We have learned of the news of Typhoon Rai … and the resulting deaths, injuries and missing persons,” King Salman said in his message to Duterte, which was carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
“We share with you the pain of this affliction. We send to you, the families of the deceased and your friendly people, our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy,” he said.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a cable to Duterte commiserating with the Filipino people.
Authorities in the Philippines on Monday reported that the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year had destroyed more than 50,000 houses, sending 380,000 people to evacuation centers.
Fifty-six people were reported missing, with 500 more injured, the national police said.
The Philippine National Red Cross reported “complete carnage” in coastal areas after Super Typhoon Rai left homes, hospitals and schools “ripped to shreds”.
The storm tore off roofs, uprooted trees, toppled concrete power poles, smashed wooden houses to pieces, wiped out crops and flooded villages — sparking comparisons to the damage caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
“Our situation is so desperate,” said Ferry Asuncion, a street vendor in the hard-hit seaside city of Surigao, which was devastated by the storm.
Residents urgently needed “drinking water and food”, he said.
One of the hardest-hit islands was Bohol — known for its beaches, “Chocolate Hills” and tiny tarsier primates — where at least 94 people have died, provincial Governor Arthur Yap said on Facebook.
Many wooden houses in Bohol’s coastal town of Ubay were flattened and small fishing boats destroyed on the island, where a state of calamity has been declared.
A senior official at the national disaster agency said he had not expected as many deaths.
“I was proven wrong as it appears now coming from the reports,” said Casiano Monilla, deputy administrator for operations.
Monilla said the government had so far not felt the need to call for foreign help with the relief operation.
“But the office of the UN coordinator on humanitarian assistance has already sent a letter offering their technical expertise and other help that they can give locally,” Monilla added.
Scientists have long warned that typhoons are becoming more powerful and strengthening more rapidly as the world becomes warmer because of human-driven climate change.
The Philippines — ranked among the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change — is hit by an average of 20 storms every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure in already impoverished areas.
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to have made landfall, leaving over 7,300 people dead or missing.
The death toll from Rai is not expected to get anywhere close to that number.
JEDDAH: Pandemic lockdown boredom and a hit TV show have sparked a renewed passion in Saudi Arabia for one of the world’s oldest and most popular board games — chess.
No cafe is complete without at least one chess set, and they are becoming popular venues for both amateur and professional players.
The game’s popularity grew amid social restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, and received a further boost from the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit.”
In the narrow streets of Jeddah’s historic district, elderly men gather around a table playing dominoes with four animated players battling for the win. Nearby, another quiet and calm duo sits on the raised deck chairs, sipping tea and silently fighting to topple the knight’s bishop.
Across town, a married couple sitting in Jeddah’s Nakheel cafe, a cultural institution, whip out their foldable board and pick up from where they last played.
Saudi amateur chess player Emad Suliman, from Jeddah, said: “Chess has been a passion of mine since I was 12 years old. I stopped for a few years but went back to playing when the sport regained its popularity due to the Netflix series.”
Suliman describes it as a huge opportunity in reviving the chess community.
“It’s not a one-move game; you have to strategize your next series of moves and take your opponent’s possible moves into account, too.”
• The origins of chess can be traced back to a game called chaturanga in 6th-century India.
•‘ The Queen’s Gambit’ series has helped to revive interest in the age-old strategy board game.
Suliman said that he is excited about chess becoming a popular board game again.
“Chess enhances the memory and therefore promotes better decision-making both during the game and in daily life. It teaches you how to analyze your opponent and what consequences your next move will have,” said Suliman.
“It teaches us lessons of how to maximize our position in life.”
Cafes in Jeddah such as GoodHood and 1/15 Neighborhood have become popular venues for professional and amateur chess players.
“Reintegrating the game into popular culture is important as it teaches players how to think deeply about the decisions they make, and how those choices might affect them or others,” said Majed AlMarzouki, co-owner of GoodHood cafe.
Fedwa Matlagitow, co-owner of the Jeddah cafe Phases, told Arab News: “Quality time with friends and family strengthens your relationship with them. The social impact of the pandemic, and quarantine in particular, forced us to value the time spent with our loved ones.”
“Board games became more popular during the lockdown, so we took it outside to rejuvenate community engagement.”
The origins of chess can be traced back to a game called chaturanga in sixth-century India.
From the Gupta Empire in India, the coastal Hejaz region, to the bustling narrow alleyways in Cairo, chess transcended empires and centuries as a game of strategy and intellect, a battle of wits and calculated moves.
RIYADH: Advisor at the Royal Court and Supervisor-General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah on Monday met Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Kingdom Pakeer Mohideen Amza.
During the meeting, the two discussed issues of common interest as well as the latest developments in the humanitarian projects being implemented by the Kingdom for the Sri Lankan people.
The center has thus far implemented nine such projects in various sectors.
Elsewhere, KSrelief has continued distributing winter supplies, including blankets and clothes, to Jordanian families in need as well as Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Jordan.
The aid distributed benefitted 10,300 individuals.
On Wednesday, Al-Rabeeah met the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths.
Al-Rabeeah reviewed the humanitarian projects implemented by the Kingdom through KSrelief, amounting to 1,806 projects in 77 beneficiary countries, including in various vital sectors, with a value of more than $5.5 billion, of which Yemen received 644 projects.
The two sides discussed matters of common concern related to relief and humanitarian affairs and ways to enhance cooperation between them to alleviate the suffering of needy countries around the world.
Griffiths praised the leading role KSrelief plays in humanitarian work, noting its provision of aid to all groups in need without discrimination.
JEDDAH: The National Center for Meteorology in Jeddah has launched an exhibition about support services for the regional cloud-seeding program. It includes presentations, explanations of the techniques used, and other information about the initiative and the aviation operations involved, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The event accompanies a workshop, titled Flight Operations of the Regional Program for Artificial Rain, for representatives of sectors involved in providing ground services for the cloud-seeding program. The aim of the workshop is to facilitate and coordinate procedural work and logistical support between authorities and the National Center for Meteorology.
The regional program for artificial rain is considered one of the most important initiatives of the Middle East Green Initiative, launched this year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the aims of which include achieving environmental sustainability, mitigating the effects and risks of climate change, and preparing natural and environmental resources to adapt to climate change, the SPA said.
RIYADH: King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam has been included as one of the key ports in the newly launched Gulf China Service, a new weekly service connecting central and south China to the Gulf region.
The new service is offered by a consortium of vessels deployed by Pacific International Lines, Regional Container Lines, and CULines.
King Abdulaziz Port plays a pivotal role in ensuring direct and efficient connectivity with China for importers and exporters in the Kingdom and the wider region, as the start and end point of the circular service.
From Dammam, the route will directly connect to Ningbo without stopping at any major ports along the way, highlighting the importance of the Kingdom’s exports to this market and proving a testament to the port’s improved capabilities.
Through this step, the Saudi Ports Authority aims to increase trade between the two countries, maximize investment opportunities for Saudi ports on the Arabian Gulf and enhance the competitiveness of the King Abdulaziz Port’s services.