23% of Internet users in Saudi Arabia are under 9


By Zekra Al-Solami

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

More than 175,000 children go online for the first time every day — a new child every half second, UNICEF said on the Safer Internet Day observed every year on Feb 5.

Digital access exposes these children to a wealth of benefits and opportunities, but also to a host of risks and harms, including access to harmful content, sexual exploitation and abuse, cyberbullying, and misuse of their private information, the children’s agency warned.

Worldwide 1 in 3 Internet users is a child.

In Saudi Arabia children’s use of the Internet and technology is on the rise due to the weak supervision and monitoring by families.

According to the Saudi General Authority for Statistics, a survey on the use of the Internet and telecommunications by families and individuals in 2018 92.51% of Saudi families use the Internet directly. Among these 23.44% of the users are children between 5 years of age and 9 years of age. Some 48.45% of children aged between 10 years and 14 years are daily users of the Internet. Some 93.19% of children using the Internet are students.

Nawal Al-Zahrani, a psychologist, rejects the idea of preventing children from using the Internet, saying that the technology has become “the language of the age.”