Digital well-being policy to help residents navigate web safely

The national strategy aims to promote positive digital experiences as people spend more time online

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The UAE’s digital well-being strategy will ensure suitable safeguards are in place to protect those spending increasing amounts of time online.

The pandemic has accelerated a shift to remote working and learning, with digital interaction surging as schools and businesses closed their doors.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, stressed the need to make online experiences "positive, productive and safe" when launching the National Policy for Quality of Digital Life last week.

“When lockdown happened, some people couldn’t do their normal daily transactions like paying bills or collecting groceries,” said Amal Al Blooshi, manager of the Digital Well-being Programme at the Ministry of Community Development.

“We want people to be able to continue life as normal, online, without impacting their lives.

“This new policy aims to promote a positive reality for technology and the digital world, all while safeguarding residents in the UAE.”

Ms Al Blooshi said the pandemic highlighted the need to expedite the digitisation of everyday services.

But at the same time, she said, awareness of online etiquette and safety needed to be enhanced.

Emiratis in government schools will be taught about appropriate online behaviour from their first to final years.

They will study a code to be drafted by the National Council for Quality of Digital Life.

Parents will also have access to a new rating system, at www.sannif.ae, they can use to monitor the content of the games their children play online.

Depending on how effective the guidelines are at safeguarding online users, some could become law within the next few years.

The policy has four pillars. Under the digital capabilities platform, everyone, from young to old, will be encouraged to learn how to perform everyday tasks, such as paying bills, online.

It will also look to promote good conduct online, especially on social media. Residents will be encouraged to share positive messages and reduce their exposure to harmful or hateful content.

Legislation and regulations will also be established to protect users from cyber security risks such as hackers.

The policy underscores the principles of the National Wellbeing Strategy 2031 in building a safe, secure and positive digital community.

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