The disconnect in staying connected
Emirati teens are trendsetters when it comes to keeping up to date with the latest technology, but that may have a downside, according to the top executive of a marketing research company citing a survey.
Gagan Bhalla, CEO of AMRB, — which in part conducted the survey — said while Emirati teens have the latest smartphones and computers, these same diversions are preventing them from focusing on hitting the books.
“A lot more teens in India and China are going for after-school studies but here they got a lot more diversions like going online,” Bhalla said.
The remarks come after AMRB released the results of a survey looking at the habits of Emirati teens aged 12 to 19, who are leading the region in being the most tech-savvy, Bhalla said. The survey was conducted in 35 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and is used to compare the habits of teens worldwide.
Fuelling their tech-savvy lifestyle is the fact Emirati teens get four times more pocket money than their global counterparts, Bhalla said.
“Here they spend Dh400 a week compared to Dh130 for teens across the globe,” he said.
In total, 400 Emirati teens were interviewed from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah at the end of 2011.
Emirati teen Ali Omran says he believes spending time online can be useful. The 15-year-old is a self-professed Twitter addict and spends nearly seven hours a day on his computer, compared to the one-to-two hours spent online by the teens surveyed.
He also owns two phones, a Nokia and a BlackBerry.
But Omran says he checks his Twitter timeline both through his smartphone and computer for the latest news on the UAE, which he doesn’t consider to be a waste of time.
“You need Twitter because people are tweeting about things (that) matter,” he said.
Even with his online addiction, Omran says he was able to get Bs and Cs this year as he completed Grade 10.
Omran’s friend, Saif Al Shamsi, says he keeps his BlackBerry on him at all times. And during exams, that can be a problem, he said.
“It makes you not focus.
“It affects my studies because you’re always checking your BlackBerry for Twitter, instead of studying,” Al Shamsi said.
In addition to spending time on his smartphone, Al Shamsi surfs the Net for two hours a day on his iPad.
While Emirati teens have different online habits compared to teens in other parts of the globe, Bhalla said he was surprised to find that all teens have one thing in common.
“They all want the latest technologies, they do think about where they want to be when they grow up, so it’s like they’re one big global generation.
“A teen in Dubai will be different but not all that different from a teen in Los Angeles or Shanghai or Tokyo,” Bhalla said.