Some schools in the UAE ban students from using social media, mobile phones on campus

Some schools in the UAE ban students from using social media, mobile phones on campus

Principals say they continuously raise awareness and provide guidance on the usage of social media in assemblies and through workshops.

Certain private schools in Dubai have introduced partial or complete prohibitions on students using social media applications while the school is in session.

While headteachers acknowledge that social media continues to be a part of students’ lives, they highlight misusing such platforms constitutes a risky infringement of school regulations which is even considered to be a criminal offence.

Ghadeer Abu-Shamat, Senior Vice President – Education and Superintendent/CEO of GEMS Al Khaleej International School, said,

“We make sure that we share all communication guides with parents and students, and it is important to ensure that the whole school community is fully aware that the misuse of social media, to defame an individual or institution or share inaccurate or inappropriate information, is criminalised under Articles 20, 24 and 32 from Federal Decree-Law no. (5) of 2012 on Combatting Cybercrimes.”

“Students are not allowed to use mobile phones in the school. Social media is banned during school hours."

In certain schools students are asked to request permission should they need to post pictures from the school on their social media channels.

Explaining the UAE’s social media laws, Abu-Shamat, said,

“The school administration has the right to file a complaint with the authorities to take appropriate action against any person using social media to defame and negatively impact the reputation of the school. Such behaviour also violates the Parent-School contract signed by parents.”

Meanwhile, principals say they continuously raise awareness and provide guidance on the usage of social media in school assemblies and through workshops.

They underline education and awareness are key to promoting a positive and secure digital environment. The workshops aim to equip students with the skills and awareness they need to navigate the digital landscape wisely.

Responsible digital citizenship

Chandini Misra, Principal of Repton Al Barsha, said,

“We have a comprehensive social media policy in place that aims to cultivate responsible digital citizenship among our students. During school hours, our focus is on academic engagement and personal interaction. As such, the use of social media apps is not permitted for any year groups during school hours, including breaks.”

“Our ‘not seen and not heard’ mobile phone policy in the senior school ensures that students are fully present in their learning and are encouraged to engage with their peers face-to-face. As an Apple Distinguished School, we are able to closely monitor the use of our 1-1 iPads in the junior school; allowing our students to utilise connectivity to enhance and keep learning as the focus. We have already conducted successful student and parent workshops within our pastoral programme and also externally run workshops by Barry Cummings at Beat the Cyber Bully; and will continue to hold workshops on the safe and responsible usage of social media.”

Educationists reiterate empowering students to make informed decisions online, helping them understand the potential impact of their actions, and fostering a sense of responsibility is critical.

Claire Smith, Academy Assistant Principal – Designated Safeguarding Lead, GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis said,

“As a school, we have worked hard to ensure that our students are aware of the UAE law when it comes to social media use. This has been a key part of our school assemblies and ‘GroWell’ wellbeing lessons for all students. Responsible decision-making is at the heart of the work that we do with students to ensure that they are safe online. Our students cannot access social media through the school Wi-Fi and the use of mobile phones in school is very much discouraged.”

“From Year 4, students explore age-appropriate themes within social media and have an awareness of how to keep themselves safe against being hacked, spammed, or the victims of online fraud or abuse. All students have access to Internet Safety lessons and if social media is mentioned as part of that discussion with the students, then the class teachers will talk through what being safe online looks like.”

News Source: Khaleej Times

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