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What’s happening in the AmanTECH world?

The latest news from Vodafone’s Digital Parenting initiative…

 

October 2018


Through our work in schools in Doha since 2016, Vodafone AmanTECH has spent time with parents, teachers and pupils to find out about the way that digital technology and the internet are affecting the lives of children in Qatar. As you might expect, online games are a subject that comes up time and again. In 2018, one type of game in particular has hit the headlines: the battle royale!

Last man standing…

No matter whether playing on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or games console the key features of battle royale games remain the same: the players’ characters must survive in a hostile environment, collecting equipment, supplies and weapons, and destroy their opponents before they get killed themselves. The aim - to be the last competitor left alive.

Battle royale games are multi-player, with tens or even hundreds of players online at the same time. Many games require players to work on their own, while in others they form small teams and work together to survive. In almost all battle royale games there is one overarching theme - battles to the death.

Is my child playing battle royale games?

In the last two years there has been a rapid development of numerous battle royale games. Early on, battle royale gameplay was added as an option in existing games. One such game has come to dominate the market - it was released as a free-to-play game and almost instantly exploded with more than 125 million players worldwide already. If your children are gamers, there is a good chance that they have heard of, seen, or played a battle royale game.

Battle royale games - should my child be playing them?

As Digital Parents, our first question is normally, “Is this game suitable for my child?” The answer to this question is personal - every parent and child is different. At Vodafone AmanTECH we aim to provide the information that will allow you make that decision.

1. Platforms

Battle royale game are available on laptops, and games consoles like the PlayStation 4 and XBOX One. They can also be played on tablets and smartphones so that players can continue playing when they are out of the house.

2. Gameplay and addiction

Battle royale games require skills like problem-solving and strategy. Furthermore, team games need good teamwork and communication to succeed. That said, the games are, by their nature, violent. Players use weapons from pistols and shotguns, to knives and crowbars, to attack their opponents. In terms of appearance, some are fairly realistic although the most popular battle royale worldwide has a cartoon style, meaning that some parents are happier for their children to play rather than other violent games.

In 2018, battle royale games have been making headlines around the world because of their popularity and because many parents and experts have expressed concern that children are showing signs of addiction. Battle royale matches normally last 10-20 minutes, so the temptation to play “just one more” can be hard to resist.

We always recommend that parents take the opportunity to play games with their families if possible. It is a great way to have meaningful conversations about the suitability of games, to find out more about our children’s online life and to discover the reasons that they are so eager to play them.

3. Cost

Many games, including some battle royale games, are “free-to-play”. This means that players can download and start playing free of charge. That said, there are many options to spend money within the game to purchase and upgrade weapons and equipment. As with many “free” games, parents must be aware that the incentives to spend can be very persuasive; if you are happy to allow your children to play the games, make sure to have a conversation about in-game purchases early on. Get familiar with parental controls to stop younger children spending money accidentally.

4. Interactions and sharing personal information

As with many modern console and computer games, battle royale games include the option of interacting with other players using text messages and speech. For team games, being able to communicate with team mates can be an advantage. As always, this has the potential to expose children to inappropriate conversations, bad language and cyberbullying. They may also be tempted to share personal information and Digital Parents who allow their kids to play the games will need to remind them of the rules about the details that should never be shared online.

Turning off the voice chat option in most games is straightforward but, like all safety settings, they can be undone. At Vodafone AmanTECH we always recommend that parents discuss the reasons WHY they don’t want children to access certain features. Communicating together as a family is just as important as using parental controls.

And finally…

Knowledge is power and, whenever we need to make decisions about which games we allow our digital families to play, having access to accurate information is key. For information about games ratings, online interactions, cyberbullying and more, visit the Vodafone AmanTECH website. Websites like Common Sense Media also contain advice and reviews which can help Digital Parents to make their decisions. 

 

April 2017

musical.ly – a Digital Parents’ guide to the latest music-video craze…

You may not have heard of musical.ly, but there is a good chance that your child has. The smart phone and iPod app is taking the world of tech-savvy kids by storm, with over 60 million users in the United States alone.

Read on for the Vodafone AmanTECH guide…

What is Musical.ly?

It’s a social network, designed so that users (or ‘musers’) can create, share and watch short music videos to their favourite songs.

What do they do in the videos?

Well, that depends on the muser; most people video themselves lip-syncing to the music, dancing and generally enjoying themselves.

Who’s using it?

As you can imagine, most users are in their teens. Although the age recommendation is 13+ years, many users are considerably younger.

Who can watch the videos?

As with all social media platforms, Musical.ly has privacy features. Unlike some – Facebook for example – musical.ly defaults to public. This means that, unless your child manually changes their settings to private, anyone using the app will be able to view his or her ‘musicals’. When set to private, only approved people will be able to view the videos.

What else should I know?

Musicals created using the musical.ly app can easily be shared on other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Vine so it is important the get the privacy settings on those accounts set to private as well.

Once shared, musicals may be commented upon which may give an opportunity for cyberbullying. Some of the music and videos may contain bad language or other inappropriate content.

There are no content filters or parental controls so children have to decide for themselves what they do and don’t watch.

What should I do if my child wants to join musical.ly?

First of all, it’s your choice as a parent. The musical.ly app and community is, for most people, a great way to express their creativity in a fun way and to share the results with their friends.

The key questions, as with any social media platform, are:

  1. Is my child old enough and mature enough to be using the app?
  2. Does my child know who they are sharing videos with; do they have the app set to maximum privacy?
  3. If my child sees something inappropriate or upsetting, will he or she come and tell me about it?
  4. Is my child aware of the potential dangers of using social media and how to avoid them?

If your answer to any of the questions above is no, then you may decide that your child is not ready to join musical.ly yet.

If you decide they are, then why not set up your own account as well. You could make it a condition that you have to be able to view the musicals that your child posts (best to promise not to comment on them first) and you might even find that you want to join in as well!

 

January 2017

Come and join in the fun at the Gulf Mall and Hyatt Plaza in February

Following the success of the Vodafone AmanTECH internet safety treasure hunts last year, two Doha malls are playing host to more events in January and February 2017.

In response to the rapid growth of internet use in Qatar, particularly among children and young adults, Vodafone AmanTECH has been running online safety events aimed at helping parents to guide their families safely in the digital world.

In the first of two 3-day events, families were invited to go to Gulf Mall and take part in a “digital treasure hunt” which combined a specially-designed app with a series of quiz questions and activities for adults and children. Over 450 families joined in the fun; designing their own emojis, using the giant Vodafone AmanTECH selfie-booth and using “App Stack” cubes to demonstrate the way that they use their own digital technology.

The second 3-day event takes place at Hyatt Plaza on 9th – 11th Feb. As well as learning about internet safety together, families have the chance to win prizes to enjoy.

Come and join us at Hyatt Plaza – we can’t wait to meet you!


May 2016

Qatar families uncover internet-safety tips at the Vodafone AmanTECH treasure hunt…

As internet use has boomed in Qatar, online safety has become a hot topic for families.

Vodafone Qatar’s AmanTECH project has taken a new, innovative approach to help Digital Parents, combining an information-packed website and parents’ guide with a series of exciting events for families in Doha.

To kick things off, the weekend 17th – 19th March 2016 saw more than 350 families take part in a Family Treasure Hunt at Ezdan Mall. This unique experience brought together the fun of a treasure hunt with information and education on digital parenting in the 21st century.

Using a new smartphone app developed specifically for AmanTECH, families visited different “task stations”. As well as answering questions and learning new facts, parents and children took part in fun activities such as:

- designing their own emojis
- building “app stacks” to show how different family members use their smartphones
- using the giant Vodafone AmanTECH photo frame to capture a family “selfie”

 

 

All of the 15 task stations related to specific issues around safety in the digital world. A few of the topics covered in the treasure hunt were:

Social networking

Digital technology

Cyberbullying

Sharing photos safely

Digital jargon

Altogether, 1436 people took part in the treasure hunt and the response was overwhelmingly positive, with almost everybody asking for more AmanTECH events! They won’t be disappointed; check out the AmanTECH events and activities page to find out what’s coming up in 2016.

Here is what the families we surveyed had to say:

 

83% agreed that internet safety is an important subject for families

72% agreed said that the event helped them to think about online safety

62% said that after the treasure hunt they felt more aware of digital safety issues

Vodafone Qatar is committed to helping Digital Parents to keep their families safe online. The AmanTECH Family Treasure Hunt is the first of a number of exciting events that will be taking place over the next year.

To find out more and to make sure that you and your family are able to take part next time, visit the AmanTECH events and activities page on this website. We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

March 2016

AmanTECH – the next chapter

In May 2014, Vodafone Qatar launched their AmanTECH Digital Parenting initiative. In 2016, Vodafone AmanTECH will enter a new phase with fresh resources and exciting events taking place throughout the year.

Parenting in a digital world can be complex and even confusing. The advent of mobile technology, which allows Qatar’s children to access the internet wherever they are, presents a considerable challenge for parents concerned with their children’s safety.

In 2016, Vodafone Qatar will be expanding their provision of help, advice and guidance. Through the updated AmanTECH website and a new printed Digital Parents’ guide, parents in Qatar will be given free access to a wealth of resources to help them guide their children safely through the digital world.

2016 will also feature some great events, starting with an exciting, interactive activity that will take place in the Ezdan Mall, Doha, on 17th – 19th March. Children and parents are invited to take part in an event that combines fun with information and education about online safety.

Families will take part in a ‘treasure hunt’ that is based around a mobile app. The hunt will lead them around the mall to different ‘task stations’ where they will work together to answer quiz questions, complete fun activities and learning together about safety in the digital world.

Families who wish to take part in this first Vodafone AmanTECH event of 2016 will also receive free giveaways for taking part. To find out more visit the ‘Events and activities’ page.

July 2014

Vodafone receive Golden CSR Award

Vodafone Qatar has been recognised with the coveted Golden CSR Award for their creative and innovative approach to corporate social responsibility that goes well beyond charity and philanthropy only.

Receiving the award from the Arab Organisation for Social Responsibility, Dana Haidan, Head of CSR & Sustainability at Vodafone Qatar said:

“We’re very honoured to be chosen out of many companies to receive this prestigious accolade. As a Qatari company with very local roots, corporate social responsibility ranks high on our agenda and our aim is to continue to make a real contribution to society.

At Vodafone Qatar, we use our expertise in communication technology to make a positive social impact. We also believe we can help to build a more sustainable future by delivering commercially viable products and scalable services that transform and improve the quality of lives and enable positive economic, social and environmental outcomes for our stakeholders.”

Vodafone Qatar has recently launched the 4th edition of its annual programme, World of Difference, which gives financial grants to a number of winners for them to carry out their creative ideas that generate tangible benefits to the community.

May 2014

Vodafone launches their new Digital Parenting initiative to promote internet safety for children and young people in Qatar.

AmanTECH, which stands for ‘Safe Technology’, aims at promoting digital literacy amongst parents and improving children’s digital safety. Vodafone AmanTECH helps to raise parents’ and children’s awareness about safe internet use.

In its first year, AmanTECH will reach out to 50,000 students aged between 5 to 17; 15,000 teachers; and 25,000 parents. The programme will adopt a three-pronged approach with a focus on awareness, education and technical support.

This will entail a number of awareness campaigns during 2014, an online source for information and tips for parents and teachers, magazines and newsletters, ongoing education and discussion groups for parents, teachers and mothers, and dedicated Vodafone Tech Experts in stores to impart valuable knowledge and advice for digital parenting, in addition to how-to guides and links to children’s educational games.

 

About Vodafone AmanTECH

Since its launch in May 2014, Vodafone AmanTECH has been working to help Digital Parents to keep their families safe online.

Through mobile internet technology, children have access to a world of information, games and entertainment that previous generations couldn’t have imagined. Whether sharing photographs, watching the latest movies or chatting with friends, the internet is part of everyday life for young people in Qatar.

Learning to use the internet in a safe way is vital; Vodafone AmanTECH provides information, tips and tools through our website and Parents’ Guide, and runs fun and informative family events to help Qatar’s parents keep their families safe and secure in today’s Digital World.