Children in the UAE Able to Circumvent Proxy Server and See Pornography On Their BlackBerrys

Parents here in the United Arab Emirates are worried.  They have generously provided their children with BlackBerry sets, and what do their children do in return?  They go and use their latest phones to their full potential.  Hundreds of parents have complained that their children have exploited a loophole that allowed them to surf the web for pornography.

Do they scold their children, talk to them, or take their phones away (thinking perhaps they might be too young to even own such a phone)?  No.  Instead, the parents complain to the people at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (and most probably blame them for such unforgivable negligence and incompetence).

So the parents complained that their children were circumventing the proxy server and seeing pornographic websites on mobile devices.  The director general of TRA confirmed saying that BlackBerrys have a Short Message System feature that can link messages, and that children started to broadcast links to websites where they could download pornographic content.

TRA has taken action to make sure that pornography is no longer accessible through BlackBerrys.

“The BlackBerry is a business phone,” a guy who owns an internet applications said. “I don’t think it is true about children using it to access pornography. I think they are using that as a justification for the ban.”  He also said that the Government “has woken up to the fact that censorship didn’t include phones”.

Personally, I’ve seen children as young as twelve roaming around with BlackBerrys.   But since I’ve also read here about an Emirati teenager who has been jailed for having intimate relations with his 13-year-old girlfriend, who court records say willingly went to him after abandoning a two-day family vacation,  I don’t see any reason why we should believe the children are NOT downloading pornography videos on their mobiles.

I was just thinking about the importance of providing our children with their own mobile sets, when I remembered an incident that happened last month.  Masood and I were at the mall, waiting for the elevator at the 4th floor.  Waiting with us was a guy with two girls:  one was around four or five years old, while the other was a small baby in the stroller.  The moment the elevator doors opened, the four-year-old ran inside.  The doors closed and she went down all alone.  The father panicked, hand the baby over to me, and ran down the escalator.  Minutes later, he received a call.  His daughter apparently went all the way down to the ground level, spotted the security guy, and told him her father’s mobile number.

When the father returned to collect his baby from us, he said, with tears in his eyes, “We just had her memorize my number this morning.”

Lesson learned:  you do not need to buy BlackBerrys for your children.  As a matter of fact, very young children do not even need to have their own phones.

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13 Responses to Children in the UAE Able to Circumvent Proxy Server and See Pornography On Their BlackBerrys

  1. I agree – I find it strange that kids who are so young have Blackberrys!
    On the other hand, if you raise your kids well I feel like you can trust them with a mobile.

    Actually, Sis, I think what’s happening here is that a lot of parents (and children alike) show off a lot, which means that if A and B have a BlackBerry, then C MUST have it too. It’s more of a status symbol than a necessity.

    In the prayer hall earlier today, I overheard a very young girl (early teens) tell someone on the phone how she’d already run out of excuses to skip school (it was difficult to ignore her in the small, air-conditioned room).

  2. 'liya says:

    Children do not need any kind of cell phone. It’s important for them to memorize emergency numbers and their parent’s work and cell number but they themselves have no reason for a phone. At school it’s a major distraction and hugely a status symbol. When teens can get a job and earn money to pay for their phone bills, then only I think they are mature enough to handle a phone. Those are my observations based on teaching teens! 😀

    Except that here in the UAE, teens don’t work; they study and play, and demand all the luxuries in life.

  3. Specs says:

    I didn’t even have a cell phone till 2009 and while I think it was a bit too strict, really, I wasn’t worse for wear for it. Its more of a luxury than necessity (like Messengers, LOL- fun but really, you can live without them too) I think when it comes to things that aren’t really necessary for a good living etc, children should have to earn them.

    I think its right that my parents didn’t give me a cell phone till I could afford to have one on my own and now my employer covers my phone bills. When I see the rest of my siblings asking for money for air-time credits or asking for whatever the newest model on the market is, I feel they don’t appreciate the luxury for what it is- if you can’t afford it without your parent’s input, you probably don’t need it that bad.

    And I was the first caller on that phone 😀

  4. A similar situation exist here in Singapore too…
    Parents have become puppets to children here where such materialistic items have become demands for rewards for their “so called” good behaviour or good results and when they find their children is up to no good with the “rewards” that they have provided… they will point the fingers else where to put the blame! Not realizing that it all started from them in the first place for handing out all this expensive items to their kids! It all boils down to the parenting these days….

    So it seems as if parents try the easy way out by giving in to their children’s whims instead of going to the length of explaining them the pros and cons, and standing up to the rules they create at home.

  5. Haris Gulzar says:

    I agree that it is now becoming a status symbol. And if each of person A’s friends have a mobile phone, person A would definitely force his parents to get him one too, without really knowing if it is needed or not…

    Parents should really take note of this. Children should be trusted but only when there is a need to trust them, otherwise, they’re only children and they don’t know whats good for them and whats not.

    Besides, it was strange that parents instead of scolding their own children, went to the TRA (which should have been approached but as a second priority) to complaint about the loophole.

    Parents went straight to the TRA only because they didn’t feel that it was wrong to buy BlackBerry for their young children. And they’d rather put ALL the blame on others.

  6. Abid says:

    I got my first phone for my 16th birthday, and it wasn’t a blackberry. all it could do was make calls!

    Me too! My first phone had three functions: calls, text messages, and alarm. And I was 21 when I had it.

  7. adesi says:

    and they are advertising here as “you dont have to be serious to use bb”

    pathetic they all are!

    So that made parents assume that BB are for children 😀

  8. Nisa AK says:

    it’s sad but they are parents who provide these gadgets as compensation of some sort to their kids. For the lack of time and to feel less guilty abt it. The kids’ materialistic demands are taken care of but everything else suffers in the long run.

    “For the lack of time and to feel less guilty abt it.” — I think that is exactly what’s happening here!

  9. Sumera says:

    Young children have no need for a mobile phone. We used to memorise important numbers and then use a phone box if need be!

    Sporting around a fancy phone could in fact be even dangerous in certain places. Oh, and since all important numbers are stored in the phone book, children may not even memorize them.

  10. Ms.Unique says:

    Subhan Allah … May Allah protect all muslim kids from such fitnah …. Ameen …

    I think even the parent’s are responsible for their children’s behavior too! No use blaming others when we are providing the children with all the means to get distorted …

    I guess it’s the same here in Saudi, it’s more for show off than necessity. But I haven’t heard about accessing porno through blackberry yet … Alhamdulillah …

    Ameen! Children are very creative so parents need to keep an eye on them instead of blaming someone else.

  11. Haleem says:

    I still don’t have internet on my phone… I must be old! 🙂

    You’re not alone 🙂

  12. Shahan Ur Rehman says:

    Agreed!
    I got my first cell phone after my first salary of my very first job 🙂
    I still dont use internet on my cell after whole day facing a 15″ screen of my laptop. Its not that i dont know how to access it and being in IT field i know ways to access it free of cost!

    But why the hassle !!

    Personally, browsing the web painfully on a very tiny screen doesn’t appeal me. Masood uses it to keep up-to-date with his work e-mail though, so whenever he gets an email, he gets alerts. But I hate that. Another reason why phones should not have internet, lol.

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