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Obsession with social media causing ‘moral degradation’ — experts

By Laila Azzeh - Sep 28,2016 - Last updated at Sep 28,2016

AMMAN — The “obsession” with social media networks, at the expense of using the Internet to expand knowledge, is a “pressing” issue that must be addressed and analysed, experts agreed on Wednesday.

At the first regional conference to tackle the issue, held in Amman under the title “The Technological Interference into Families”, participants described a state of “moral degradation” caused by the growing popularity of social media networks.

Organised by the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA), the two-day event brings together sociologists and experts from Palestine, Lebanon, Algeria and Egypt.

“Families today are infiltrated by technology. While the Internet can be a tool for advancement, the misuse of the technology is creating gaps between members of the same families and messing with their ideas,” said Mohammad Halaiqah, the head of the conference’s steering committee.

He noted that the “Internet now adds to the political, economic, social and moral infiltration of the Arab world”.

According to the NCFA’s 2014 Family Status Report, around 68 per cent of Jordanians believed that social media sites affected the amount of time family members spent together. 

Furthermore, over 60 per cent of families perceive the Internet as their key partner in raising their children. 

Ninety-five per cent of Jordanians own mobile phones, 89 per cent have Facebook accounts and 71 per cent are active on WhatsApp. 

While acknowledging the need to take part in the information revolution, the experts called for spreading better awareness on the safe use of the Internet.

“This is especially true in light of the arming of depressed Arab youth by extremist groups,” said Ahmad Abu Rumman, the head of the conference.

He said the family should be the first to stand in the way of this, “by activating dialogue about the danger of uncontrolled use of the Internet”.

The conference will also address the role of the media in raising awareness of the potential threats of new technology, and how countries can cooperate to stop the sexual exploitation of children via cyberspace.

The Family Protection Administration’s experience in establishing a special unit to combat cybercrimes, especially the sexual exploitation of children, will also be highlighted during the conference.

In the first seven months of 2016, the department dealt with 5,272 crimes related to the family, 20 per cent of which concerned the Internet, including the sexual exploitation of children.

Last year, the department dealt with 7,865 cases, prompting it to introduce a new system to track sexual crimes against children.

NCFA Secretary General Fadel Hmoud underlined the importance of the event in creating momentum among Arab countries to overcome the dangers associated with the misuse of the Internet.

 

The conference is being organised in cooperation with the Himma International Academy.

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