The Shamsa bint Mohamed Al Nahyan Fellowship in Early Childhood Development is an intensive professional development program that the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation conducted in collaboration with Yale University. This fellowship provides a unique opportunity for fellows who work with children to develop their knowledge and skills on how best to support children’s intellectual, emotional and cognitive development. Here Noora al Meraikhi shares how she learned about the effect of technology on family life.
“I am an Emirati female pediatrician working at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi and I am keen to provide optimal healthcare services to children and their families to support child growth and development.
“Through the fellowship, I have been able to interact and share experiences with the other professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Together we are working to create strategies to increase parents’ abilities to raise healthy and well-adjusted children in the UAE.
“As the nation is moving toward full digital inclusion, I am working on a project that studies the Impact of Emirati Parents’ Screen Time on Parent-Child Relationships. The goal is to find out how technology use in the UAE impacts family dynamics and how parents think this influences their children’s development and growth. Positive parent-child relationships during first child’s years of life provide the foundation for child’s learning, emotional, intellectual and social development. It encourages successful family engagement, giving the child a better chance to succeed in new learning settings.
“As many families deal with screen devices on a daily basis as part of their normal routine, the reaction of people around me has been of interest and curiosity. I think this is because they realize that there are both positive and negative effects of technology on family dynamics. Therefore, it has been great for me to inform parents about the importance of parental interaction from an early age – it helps our children establish a sense of security and being loved as well as develop a personality and identity.
“I am planning to survey Emirati and non-National families across the UAE. I am interested to develop resources and tools for parents to raise awareness about the impact of technology on family dynamics and to enhance parent-child engagement. Subsequently, I will use my findings to develop resources and a guide for parents to raise awareness about the impact that technology has on family dynamics, with a particular focus on young children. I hope these resources will not only teach parents how to use screen devices in ways that enhance their children’s development, but will also provide ideas about how to strengthen the parent-child bond. For instance, the use of TV, laptop, mobile phones and any other type of screens should be limited to times when the parent and child can have favourable interactions with each other. A child benefits most when using screen devices in ways that support and encourage responsive communication while a parent, or other adult, is participating in or supervising the experience.
“Learning is a continuous process and so I am always looking for opportunities to enhance my personal and professional capabilities to contribute to UAE growth. I am inspired by all people around me because I believe each person, regardless of their age, has made an impact on me in one way or the other. My parents have always been a great source of inspiration and support throughout my life making me the person I am today.
“I feel that there is no such thing as a regular or “normal.’ Every day is a different day and there always developments and challenges. My aim each day it so balance my professional activities and the time I spend with my family. The UAE has become classified as a developed country with Allah’s blessing and our leaders’ guidance and efforts. We should all contribute in the process of UAE development and sustainability by investing in young people to be leaders in the future.”
Connect with Noora: firstname.lastname@example.org