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Parental Perspectives on Internet Technology Use by UAE Children



Abstract

Over the years, there has been an escalating usage of internet among young children below the age of ten in UAE owing to the latest advancements in technology and their broad access to digital tools such as tablets, mobile phones, smartphones, and computers. Nonetheless, based on the risks and opportunities associated with children, access to the internet deferring parent guidelines relating to the issue have developed varying parental perspectives on internet technology used by children. The proposed research will examine different parental perspectives on internet technology used by Emirati children.

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A qualitative methodology will formulate the study design with the data to be collected by conducting surveys among parents distinguished by age, educational background, economic status, and knowledge of the internet. The study will also integrate secondary research relating to children’s use of the internet. The resulting descriptive data will be analyzed and interpreted as per the qualitative method requirements. The study’s anticipated findings will generate awareness on children’s use of the internet, thereby fostering the development of permissive parenting methods to be utilized by the parents.

Keywords: The Internet, children, technology, digital tools, perspectives, qualitative, research, surveys, interviews, entertainment, parental concerns.

Background of the Study

The use of the internet has substantially increased over the years owing to the latest advancements in technology. To be more precise, it has grown from less than one-percent usage in 1995 to over 3 billion subscribers in the world today. In this line, it has seized from being a medium only for adults and teenage users to including children between the ages of 0-10 years, who are quick learners and passionate adopters of the technology. With Asia recording the highest number of internet users in the world with a percentage of 48.4 %, the Emirati children are the most affected as UAE is a metropolitan region in Asia (James, 2014). The research has acknowledged various forms of entertainment and social interaction as the primary motivation of children’s internet use. As a result, web platforms are increasingly becoming part of today’s culture.

Statement of the Problem

Nevertheless, the children’s use of the internet is associated with a broad range of advantages and disadvantages. The benefits include: gaining wisdom through access to internet information and educational tools; acquiring better communication tools as they can express the ideas and help interact socially with peers; and enhance the innovativeness through entertainment forums such as games, movies, et cetera. Next, there is also a wide range of potential risks involved with children's access to the internet. For instance, the children may gain access to sexual content which are over 1.3 million pornographic internet sites globally that display erotic images and videos (Livingstone, 2013). Similarly, the children may become exposed to violent behaviors and inappropriate language from entertainment forums and illegal downloads of movies that are beyond their age limit specification. Consequently, they may be easily tricked to release personal information online, which may bear significant repercussions to the parents.

In this regard, parental concerns over their children accessing the internet have significantly increased due to the fact that children’s access to digital tools has amplified. To be more specific, children are gaining more access to devices such as smartphones, personal computers, and tablets, which have made their access to the internet unquestionably easier. As a result, a digital divide has emerged among the parents who support their children’s involvement in the web and those opposing it. Thus, there is a need for research on the different parental perspectives in terms of internet technology use among their children.

Objectives of the Study

The chief object of this study is analyzing various parental perspectives concerning internet technology use by Emirati (UAE) children regarding their increased awareness and access to digital devices. Therefore, the proposed study aims at fulfilling some objectives in agreement with the strategies advised by Vangelisti, (2004).

  • Outline a clear analysis of how parental concern about the children’s use of the internet reflects on personal and cultural differences.
  • Conduct research into how parents’ prior experience with the internet affects their attitude towards children’s access to internet technology.
  • Evaluate whether parent’s proficiency and knowledge of the web influence their perspective on children’s use of internet technology.
  • Provide an informed insight on whether a parent’s age affects their perception of children's access to internet technology.

Scope of the Study

This study will primarily focus on parental perspectives of the Emirati children’s use of internet technology. This audience was chosen because Asia is listed among the regions where Internet use has established its roots. Therefore, with UAE being a pre-eminent region in Asia where over 80% percent of children have access to the web following the latest innovation of digital tools (James, 2014); the focus would be significantly beneficial towards analyzing different parental perspectives. Additionally, the study will also be researching children in the age ranges of 0-10 years as they are the most vulnerable to Internet attacks.

Significance of the Study/Justification

The proposed research will be of great importance to society as it will develop an awareness of children’s internet use among the parents through the analysis of different perspectives. Thus, parents will become aware of the risks and benefits associated with allowing children to access the internet. In this line, it will encourage parents with minimal knowledge of the web to develop proper parental guidelines based on other parent’s perspectives on children’s access to the internet in order to protect their children from inappropriate content. As a result, despite the study is focused on the Emirati children, this research will be particularly relevant to all parents from different parts of the world.

This is because technology use among children is a global phenomenon; hence, the anticipated findings and recommendations from the research would apply to all parents on a global scale. Similarly, the research will also benefit the children as they will be protected against potential internet risks. In this regard, conducting this research will contribute to resolving the variety of practical problems associated with the children accessing internet technology globally. It will also mobilize the development of various strategies that can be used to protect children against internet threats.

Research Questions

The following overarching question will guide the research:

What are the different parental perspectives on internet technology use by Emirati children who are regular users of devices such as smartphones, tablets, and personal computers?

The main research question will then be supported by three sub-questions that structure a comprehensive approach to evaluating different parental perspectives on children using internet technology. Each sub-question will address a corresponding aspect through which parents’ perceptions are based.

  1. How do cultural and personal convictions influence parents’ perception of children’s internet use?
  2. How do parents’ prior experiences with the internet influence their attitude towards children’s internet use?
  3. How does age impact a parent’s perception of children accessing the internet via various digital devices?

More Technology Research Paper Topics

Literature Review

The literature review will be organized around the following issues: studies that focus on technology benefits for children; the effect of technology on education and language literacy; the risks involved with the children’s access to internet technology; and mobile phone usage among children.

The initial literature review demonstrated an existing body of research relating to technological benefits for children. For instance, to create awareness of the advantages associated with the use of technology among the children, Blake et al. (2012) critically analyzed the influence of technology in the children’s daily activities. Therefore, they evaluated significant roles played by technology in several aspects of a child’s life today. In this regard, the authors urged parents to examine the impacts of technology on children so as to prepare themselves to integrate internet technology for the benefit of their children effectively.

Similarly, Shamir and Korat (2013) regard technology as a support for literacy achievements for children at risk and offer a detailed analysis of how technology is beneficial to education and communication literacy. Their research is mainly based on arguments that children are exposed to technology rather early (below the age of 10 years). As a result, children enjoy electronic media in the form of electronic books, interactive games, and television among other related products.

In this line, their research demonstrated that the technologies replicated a children’s learning encounters more efficiently than the natural environment, thereby enhancing their language and literacy development. Consequently, following various surveys conducted in Shamir and Korat’s research, young children who had access to the technological world demonstrated sharp intellectual development when compared to children with no access to technology.

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Accordingly, previous research conducted by Livingstone (2013), on young children’s internet use demonstrates that children under the age of eight years are vulnerable to the variety of threats and risks. This is based on their inability to interact with the internet in a safe manner. Nevertheless, with the latest advancement in technology, children are increasingly gaining more access to the web along with the potential risks that accompany the digital world. In this regard, the research is pointed at addressing parents’ concerns about the children’s use of the internet by developing coalition principles that can help manage online risks of harm among the children.

Furthermore, according to recent research conducted by Druin (2009), on the use of mobile phones amongst the children, it was demonstrated that over 78% percent of children own cell phones, where 45% of them own smartphones that they use to connect to the internet via shared public networks. Thus, they are vulnerable to potential risks over the web. Similarly, Hunter (2012), quantified that 4% of young children within an age range of 8-11 years have been victims of bullying.

In this line, the reviewed studies have analyzed various benefits associated with the use of technology amongst the children ranging from its influence on education and child development stages. The authors have also explained different risks involved with the children’s use of technology and even proposed various ways to minimize those risks. However, none of the reviewed studies have addressed different parental perspectives on internet technology use by children.

Research Methodology

According to the fact that children’s involvement in the internet technology is a significantly changing phenomenon, the study employs a qualitative research approach because it provides a proper basis for exploration since it enhances knowledge about a social phenomenon and theory generalization among other factors. Therefore, since the primary research will be focused on analyzing different parents’ perspectives on their children’s use of the internet, the qualitative method will be the most appropriate to be employed. Besides, it will also provide the basis for not only capturing differing views of those who will participate in the study, but it also scrutinizes individuals from varying social settings. In this regard, the study will use such a qualitative approach as ethnography, grounded theory, or phenomenology (Merriam, 2009; Patton, 2015).

Population and Sampling

To collect data appropriate for the proposed study, several parents with diverse economic statuses, educational background, knowledge of the internet, and of varying ages will be used to conduct the study. The plan is to use 42 participants as the primary focus of the research where 12 parents will be involved in interviews and 30 parents will be directed to answer the survey. Secondary data that are relevant to the proposed study will also be used by analyzing previous researches conducted by scholars in regard to children’s use of internet technology.

Procedure to Be Used

The proposed study will formulate interview questions concerning the current knowledge of different parents’ perceptions of their children’s access to the web. This will enable the interviewer to remain focused on the purpose of the research. Subsequently, the research will employ two types of interviews that include the interview guide approach and the standard open-ended interview. The former will allow the aims of the research to guide the interviewing process thereby enhancing the interview’s efficacy. Similarly, the open-ended questions will enable respondents to express their feelings partaking in children’s use of the internet in the UAE. The study will also draft simple survey inquiries that will be easy to understand. The surveys will be administered via the online forum as it is fast and less expensive. Secondary data will be obtained from relevant scholarly articles and books being published during 2002-2016 in order to avoid errors.

Analysis Plan

The data will be analyzed in agreement with the accountable qualitative data analysis process.

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Validity and Reliability

The study will ensure validity by using a broad scope while choosing the participants who will be involved in the research. The reliability or the study will also be assured by directing similar interviews and questionnaires to all the individuals, thereby preventing the use of biased results in the study.

Limitations and Expectations

Nevertheless, the study is expected to encounter various limitations such as minimal compliance among the parents chosen to participate in the study and a limited timeframe to collect and analyze data from the study. The study is expected to demonstrate different parents’ perceptions of their children’s use of internet technology so as to apply the information in order to promote proper parental guidelines for their children. More precisely, the research is expected to demonstrate that the highest responsibilities lie on the parents who should monitor the online activities of their children. Nevertheless, if the results turn out differently, the scope of the study will be enhanced by including other regions of the world so as to obtain comprehensive results.

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