Parental Influences on the Internet Use by Children in Saudi Arabia
The advancement in technology has undoubtedly enriched the world, both socially and culturally, leading to concerns and unintended consequences surrounding both accessibility and its usage. The concerns of parents on their children’s internet usage have been one of the main reasons behind identifying ways and means to mediate children’s internet access and usage effectively. Even though it is recognised that internet usage has many positive influences on children, there are also concerns about the possible negative impact. For parents in Saudi Arabia (SA), mediating children’s internet usage is a significant concern due to the increasingly easy access to the internet and the likely negative impact on the children. These concerns and existing literature formed the basis for this research which sought to investigate the parental mediation of children’s internet usage in Saudi Arabia. Specifically, the research questions ask what the intensity of children’s participation in internet activities is and how effective is parental mediation in controlling usage is? In what way do social and cultural factors motivate parents to practice regulative and restrictive mediation of their child’s internet usage. Furthermore, does excessive internet usage result in negative or inappropriate consequences regarding children’s behaviour? This research adopted a multiple paradigm approach which utilised both qualitative and quantitative approaches to collect and analyse data. Data collection for this research was through a questionnaire survey (involving 700 children and 465 parents) randomly selected, and semi-structured interviews involving 23 parents. Analysis of the data suggested that parental mediation of children’s internet usage in Saudi Arabia is a major issue. The key findings from this research indicate a very high level of internet use among children in Saudi Arabia. Approximately, 64% of the respondents indicated that they use the internet on a daily basis spending between 2 to 6 hours on the internet. Video sharing was identified to be the most common use of the internet by the children. The main drivers for parental mediation of children’s internet usage in SA were identified as the need to ensure children were trained to adhere to Islamic teachings and social values, the security of children and misinformation of children. Mediation strategies adopted by parents ranged from controlling the amount of times children spent on the internet; restricting children’s access to potentially dangerous websites, and advising children on safety issues on the internet. The implications of the research results and recommendations for ensuring effective mediation of children’s internet usage in SA are discussed in the study.
- PhD