Amid pandemic, digital wellbeing is crucial - GulfToday

Amid pandemic, digital wellbeing is crucial


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It is heartening to note that the UAE has come out with a National Digital Wellbeing Policy. At a time when the pandemic has been continuing to wreak havoc across the world, the overemphasis on anything online cannot be ruled out.

Wellbeing, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is the state of being or doing well in life; a happy, healthy, or prosperous condition. The wellbeing of human beings can only be ensured if all relevant areas are looked after. That includes digital wellbeing, taking care to be protected against any kind of cyber breaches that could affect the mind – and way of living.

The UAE’s moves in this area are right on target.

There is a minister for tolerance and even one for happiness. There is also an official for digital wellbeing.  Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, apart from being the Minister of Community Development, is also the Vice Chairman of the Digital Wellbeing Council. She stressed that the National Digital Wellbeing Policy is a strong supporter of societal leadership in education and remote work in line with the directives of the UAE wise leadership. This caters for the happiness of the residents in the UAE, be it Emiratis or residents. She noted that the UAE society is one of the advanced societies in the digital wellbeing indicators due to the widespread culture of internet use, and social media at large.

The Minister revealed the UAE is on top of the global ranking list in the internet and social networking group indicators with (99%). The UAE also topped the world in the social networking indicator among the total population; it also topped the global index of subscriptions to mobile phone services with (187%) of the total population in 2019.

The policy reflects the spirit of hope and preparation for the future through the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai who said: “If anyone thinks that the world after COVID-19 will be the same as the one before is mistaken”.

The development of digital wellbeing and its requirements has grown in areas that require interaction with the digital world such as: distance learning requirements, digital learning, remote work, research, e-mails and smart services.

There are also other areas such as social communication, chatting, visual and audio sharing, entertainment, electronic games, short films and online shopping. The Digital Wellbeing Council and National Happiness and Wellbeing Programme promote an ideal social reality with the ambition of the best wellbeing by supporting individuals from different community members whether children, adolescents, adults, senior citizens and residents.

Last year, the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, ECA, launched the first of its kind “Child Online Protection guide” in the UAE, as part of the Takween Summer Programme 2020.

The guide focuses on providing a holistic approach to all potential threats and risks of harm that children at an early age, and beyond, may encounter online on social media platforms, electronic games and other digital platforms.

With high internet usage in the UAE and 99 per cent of the population being active on social media, the guide is intended to support parents in the development of good digital habits.

The Minister for Community Development indicated that some of the results of the National Wellbeing Survey 2020 which was completed by the Ministry through the National Happiness and Wellbeing Programme, showed that (56%) of children use digital devices to watch videos, and (50%) use these devices to play electronic games.

In the digital behaviour pillar, several initiatives were approved such as the Digital Citizenship Values and Behaviour. Focus was also on the Guide to Electronic Bullying, a guide to identifying and managing cyberbullying in the event of exposure.

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