Vodafone Qatar launched AmanTECH, the company’s aid programme for online child and youth safety. AmanTECH, which stands for “Safe Technology”, aims at promoting digital literacy amongst parents and improving children’s digital safety. Vodafone’s AmanTECH helps to raise parents’ and children’s awareness about safe internet use and their digital rights.
AmanTECH’s launch brought together a prestigious line-up of speakers including Mrs. Aysha Al Mudehki, Executive Director of INJAZ Qatar and Founder of Roudha Centre, Dr. Raymond Hamden, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist and Mr. Ian Campbell, Chief Executive Officer of Airtel-Vodafone in a panel moderated by Dana Haidan, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability at Vodafone Qatar.
Inaugurating the event, Mr. Kyle Whitehill, Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Qatar, said, “Vodafone relies on its many years of experience helping parents and teachers keep their children safe. We have understood the local context and coupled that with our international track record to bring about a programme in Qatar that we really believe will make a difference. We aim to empower parents and to help them equip their children with the right tools and understanding to navigate the digital world safely and to take full advantage of its benefits. This is why we’re very proud to support the national digital security drive through AmanTECH. We are strongly committed to making AmanTECH a long-term programme that will touch many people in Qatar especially parents, teachers and, certainly, our children and youth.”
In its first year, AmanTECH will reach out to 50,000 students aged between 5 to 17; 15,000 teachers; and 25,000 parents. The programme will adopt a three-pronged approach with a focus on awareness, education and technical support. This will entail a number of awareness campaigns during 2014, an online source for information and tips for parents and teachers, magazines and newsletters, ongoing education and discussion groups for parents, teachers and mothers, and dedicated Vodafone Tech Experts to impart valuable knowledge and advice for digital parenting, in addition to how-to guides and children’s educational games.
Dana Haidan, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability at Vodafone Qatar, said, “What parents are looking for, today, is a one-stop-shop which will tell them everything they need to know about the safety of their children such as choosing safety controls, mobile controls, limiting screen-time, choosing social networks, liaising with schools and the list goes on.”
As the digital world becomes ever more portable, it is becoming harder for parents to know what their children are up to online. Nearly half of Qatari children aged 8-15 own a smartphone, and 76% of children aged 9-16 have a social network profile. The average Qatari 9-16 year-old spends over 3 hours per day on the net. According to Gary Hayes Social Media Counts, every 25 seconds there is globally at least, 264 new blog posts; 245 members added on Facebook; 14,699 tweets sent on Twitter; 293,981 videos watched on YouTube; 72,613,488 emails sent globally; 587,962 searches made on Google and 4,832,576 SMS’s sent worldwide.
Haidan added, “This is a considerable amount of time spent by people of different age groups online. While technologies are changing and evolving, some uses – especially those of children – are somehow still the same. For example, children remain highly involved in gaming. It is therefore crucial that we ensure youth are surrounded with a healthy technology-driven atmosphere and that we don’t miss out on the extraordinary benefits of this revolutionary era in human communications.”
Mr. Ian Campbell, CEO of Airtel-Vodafone, said, “Technology can help support a better future for our children in areas of education, play and social contact. However it is also important to protect our young people from the dangers that technology can present, especially given the rapid pace of change and the ease with which information can be found and shared online if appropriate precautions are not in place. This is an important challenge faced by parents, governments, educationalists and technology providers.”
Mrs. Aysha Al Mudehki, Executive Director of INJAZ Qatar, said, “As a mother, I am very interested in being highly in tune of the digital world my child will soon be exposed to. I see the ample great opportunities presented by this world but, simultaneously, I would like to ensure that my child is having access to the right content through the right channels. This is why initiatives such as AmanTECH are crucial to spreading the knowledge and giving access to the tools we, as parents, are in much need of at various stages of our children’s lives.”
Vodafone Qatar will kick-off AmanTECH with another edition of its Tech Moms series in May 2014, supported by tech experts from Samsung and Blackberry. Vodafone will also hold its first Teachers Session and Youth Panel in collaboration with Malta Communications Authority, owing to their experience and expertise in this field. The project will be led by Janice Richardon, an internet safety expert from Insafe.org, the EU organisation behind the global Safer Internet Day initiative. The session will help teachers bring digital safety to life in the classroom.
Vodafone Qatar will also launch Twitter Chat in partnership with the Family Online Institute and Fred Lane, Privacy Expert. Twitter Chat with pave the way for an online dialogue platform for parents in Qatar to talk about raising good digital citizens.
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