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28 June 2017 ARCHIVES  |  SEARCH  |  POST ADS  |  ADVERTISE  |  SUBSCRIBE   |  LOGIN   |  CONTACT US

Change now the only constant

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By Reem Antoon


WITHOUT a doubt social media has emerged as a dominant form of communication, fundamentally changing the nature and dynamics of social, business and political discourse around the world.

And whether we, as parents, like it or not, social media has not only become a way of life for today’s child it is life itself! Apparently youngsters today spend more than 50 hours of screen-time every week. So obviously the media content they consume and create will have a profound impact on their social, emotional, cognitive and physical development.

Learning how to use media and technology sensibly and responsibly has become an essential skill for life and now more than ever, we need to help our youngsters and teach ourselves how to navigate a world where change is the only constant! 

Earlier in the week, parents were invited and encouraged to attend a talk at our school on Internet safety and the UAE laws concerning social media.

There is a UAE Schools Social Media and Online Behaviour Guidance that teachers and carers teach to students to adhere to and it is part of their teaching standards, which in turn is part of the UAE’s Federal Decree Law that came into effect in August of 2012 to combat cybercrimes in all their forms. 

Some of the issues in the law, which are relevant to schools, include the law against insults or accusations that would lead to victim being punished or held in contempt by others. This holds a fine of AED250,000 to 500,000 (BD25,000-BD50,000) and imprisonment.

Defamation, publishing news, photos, scenes, comments, statements or information, even if true and correct can have a penalty of up to six months in prison and a fine of AED150,000 to AED500,000 (BD15,000 to BD50,000). So posting pictures on social media without the owner’s permission is in fact violating privacy and such electronic cases can neither be waived off nor can there be a reconciliation among parties involved as the law will take its course.

Last year, a 13-year-old girl was taken to court, because she allegedly posted a picture of her friend, also 13, without her consent.

Out of fear, the latter lied to her parents about the fact that she did not give permission to her friend to post pictures of her on social media. And they filed a case against the teenager.

But then it emerged that she had actually agreed to it. And although her family tried to waive the case they could not, because the law states that electronic crimes cannot be waived off or settled by reconciliation.

So the case was referred to the Court of First Instance, where the defendant was unable to provide proof that her friend had authorised her to post the picture.

The trial court sentenced and convicted the girl. Now the case is before the Supreme Court. And the families hope the sentence is reduced considering the age of the girl.

Another case out of Austria could reignite a debate about sharing photos of children on Facebook. An 18-year-old woman from Carinthia is suing her parents over their posting of 500 images of her without her consent.

The images were shared with her parents’ 700 Facebook friends. Her father told the news outlet he has rights to the photos because he took them. 

The Austria case goes to court in November, and if she does win, parents around the world might be rethinking how they share photos of their children on social media.

According to Parent Zone, a UK-based site about parenting in the digital age, the average parent shares almost 1,500 photos, mostly on Facebook, of their children before they turn five. It found that 85 per cent of parents had not reviewed their Facebook privacy settings in more than a year and 79pc wrongly believed strangers could not see pictures of their children. French authorities have warned parents against posting intimate images of their children on Facebook, saying it could cause them lasting psychological damage.

All I can tell you is that I am glad I attended the seminar. It was a definite an eye opener. Up until then I was actually one of the 85pc and the 79pc!

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