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[February 16, 2014]
Rise in Internet use reason for decline in family time [Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates)]
(Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Expats suggest parents must try and spend at least the weekends with their kids, teenagers must try and give time to their parents.
For Indian national Shreya Venkatesh (14) and her mother Kalpana Venkatesh, the idea of not spending enough time with each other is something of an alien concept.
The Venkatesh family has been living in the UAE for the last 10 years. "I have two kids and I am very much involved with them. I always try and spend as much time as I can with them. One of the reasons I decided to become a stay-at-home mom, is so that I can pay attention to the needs of the kids," said Kalpana.
In response to her mother's comment, Shreya said: "I think children and parents must make it a point to spend at least one entire day a week with each other. I have a lot of my friends whose parents work outside and parents lock their gadgets up. They don't have any other options, except study at home." Parents in the UAE are spending much less time together with their kids compared to when they were growing up, according to a survey of more than 1,200 expats conducted by 999 Magazine. Conducted in January, the survey points out that on an average, expat parents in the UAE spend just 50 minutes of quality time together with their children on a normal working day, with a slight improvement on Thursday (75 minutes). Some of the reasons include increased workloads of parents and children, longer commuting time, increased time spent watching TV and being on the Internet. The poll shows that the UAE's expat families have a little more than 11 hours together in total each week, with weekends the best time for family bonding.
Khaleej Times caught up with a few expatriate residents in Dubai, and all of them are of the opinion that parents must try and spend at least the weekends with their kids. They added that teenagers must try and give time to their parents, as well.
Student and Pakistani national Maryam Waris (21) said: "With the state that the economy is in, parents have no other choice except work. But weekends can be kept aside for the family. Growing up, I didn't face much of a problem with my folks not giving me enough time, but kids must also take the initiative to spend time with their parents, especially teenagers." Another Pakistani national Mubeena Waris (23) said: "I think that off late, because parents don't spend enough time with children, a lot of children have low emotional maturity. Parents must take care of their kids and must be careful not to drag them into their personal problems like fights between parents." Twenty-four-year old insurance consultant Rebecca Pinto said: "I used to spend time with my parents every weekend and even though my dad used to be away for work while I was growing up, I never got the feeling of being left out of anything. I used to spend a lot of time with my extended family, like my grandparents as well. I think off late there is a trend where kids are a little emotionally stunted because they don't spend sufficient time with parents." Janeiro D'souza (23) said: "Weekends were strictly family time. We would see to that we have lunch or dinner with the family. It is the parent's duty to spend time with the child, and if they can't do it, then it is very unfortunate. If the parent does not do so, there is a high tendency for the child to drift away." The survey further stated that even when families get together, more than six in 10 parents (62 per cent) said the quality of time spent is not great as most of it is spent either in front of the TV, doing homework, reading, playing computer games or some other tasks that don't qualify as quality family time.
Experts are warning against the dangers of not spending enough quality time with children, maintaining that family time can be 'therapeutic' and acts as a deterrent to potential serious problems. The decline in family time in the past few years coincides with a rise in Internet use and the popularity of social networks.
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