Leena Khalil believes electronic devices are a posing a 'huge problem' for Middle East parents who favour more traditional toys
There has been a resurgence in the number of parents buying more traditional board games and wooden toys for their children, according to Leena Khalil, co-founder of Dubai-based Mumzworld.
But she admitted prising kids away from their electronic devices continues to be a big issue.
She told Arabian Business: “I think that is the only problem (electronic devices). I think it’s every household, nobody’s safe any more. It’s a huge problem.”
A study by Norton, involving nearly 7,000 people with children aged between five and 16 across the Middle East and Europe, found that children in Saudi Arabia spend an average of two hours, 42 minutes connected to mobile devices — the third highest duration of the 10 countries surveyed, and above the average of two hours, 35 minutes.
More than half the parents questioned in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE said that time spent on mobile phones affected their child’s quality of sleep. About three-quarters of respondents in both markets said they were concerned about the risk of online bullying.
Khalil, however, revealed she has seen a recent shift in purchases made by parents, with an increase in online shopping.
“We find that when the mother is buying, she’s thinking that way, so when the kid is buying they are definitely not thinking that way, so you find what’s sold offline is a lot different to what’s sold online because in the toy store the kid is buying,” she said.
“There’s a lot of solutions and a lot of different ways, but we’re also giving parents ideas on how to fill the kids’ time with toys and games that can help the kid just enjoy themselves without being online.
“It’s very successful with the mums, the question is how successful is it getting the kids to play? Mums are becoming more conscious and they’re really investing in them (traditional games) and there’s more demand. We’re definitely more focused on that, but the question is, once you have them at home, is the kid still carrying the iPad?” she added.
According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, screen time for young children should be limited to less than two hours per day.
Khalil said: “The whole solution is going to evolve and trying to get your kids to read more and trying to get your kid to do more traditional fun things is somewhere parents are going to be looking, both the Arabic speaking parents and the English speaking parents because it’s everybody’s problem, it’s not just expats or Emiratis, it’s a GCC, global problem.”