ABU DHABI, 6th February, 2023 (WAM) -- Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, today inaugurated the "Children's Well-being in a Digital World" International Conference, organised by Emirates Safer Internet Society (eSafe) in Abu Dhabi.
The conference coincides with the Safer Internet Day 2023, marked annually on 9th February.
In attendance were over 250 participants from government entities, international and national non-government organisations, academia, tech industry and school and college students.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak presented the newly introduced eSafe Child Online Protection Award 2022 to ten schools for their commendable work in driving digital safety measures - policies, awareness raising and data protection initiatives - in their respective educational institutions.
In his keynote speech, Dr. Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, Head of Cybersecurity, UAE Government, said that the first line of defence for cyber safety is the awareness of parents, guardians, and the family about online risks which they must periodically share with their children.
A very informed panel represented by Dr. Bushra Al Mulla, Director General - Family Care Authority; Dr Ibrahim Al Dabal, CEO - AQDAR; Lt. Col. Abdulrahman Al Tamimi, Director - Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre; Saji Thomas, Chief Child Protection-UNICEF Gulf Area etc. were in attendance.
The UAE student community was proudly represented by Hour Almadhaani from Khalifa University and Zoya Ahmed from Ambassador School Sharjah who were successful winners of a competition organised on student awareness on issues concerning online safety prior to the conference.
The inclusive conference was organised under three thematic streams: Safety of Children in the Digital World; Children and Families Well-Being in the Digital World; and Role of civic engagement and partnerships in promoting digital well-being.
The conference debates were focused around wellbeing issues that really mattered to children and young people, safety issues that impacted children and young people, how families and parents could contribute to their children's well-being, and how could we all work together to advocate for them moving forward.
Dr. Al Mulla said, "We must think of ways to responsibly employ the tools and channels of the digital world at all levels of institutions for families and children. Our children form the centre of the family and society, and today are more in need than ever of our guidance on the digital world. The Family Care Authority follows up on reported cases of bullying, extortion and threats to children through a number of specialists who in turn review the cases with the concerned authorities."
"The Authority pays great attention to the needs of children and proposes policies and procedures to make sure that individuals and families have access to the services they need to achieve stability. The Authority also cooperates with all its partners to ensure the quality of life of families in Abu Dhabi," she added.
The conference panellists were in unison in resonating that proactive cooperation and collaboration amongst government, academia, technology companies, and families was key to addressing child online safety and well-being. A holistic approach and a synergised response was the way forward to protect children from online risks and potential harm and thereby contributing to their physical, social emotional well-being.