State Mufti calls for parental control on social media

Syazwani Hj Rosli

Brunei recently ranked the third highest in the world for social media penetration, with social media users worldwide passing the 3.8 billion mark. For Instagram, Brunei users were also ranked the third highest in the world and Facebook 10th highest.

This was highlighted by State Mufti Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned during the Hafl Al-Takharruj ceremony of the Hassanal Bolkiah Arabic Boys Secondary School (SMALHB), at the International Convention Centre in Berakas yesterday.

Noting that 90 per cent of time is taken up by mobile phone activities, including mobile applications, the State Mufti said, “This indicates an addiction towards social media, with so much time spent on it, as a consequence.”

He also cited the growing number of mobile phone users in Brunei, with 452,054 in 2014 and 463,384 in 2015.

“The sum of these ratios shows that every citizen in Brunei owns a mobile phone, including children,” he said. “Such is the influence of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It has affected everyone from all walks of life, regardless of who they are.

“We are not denying the benefits of mobile phone technology, but we should be alarmed just like everyone else, about the impact of this unchecked use of technology,” he said.

State Mufti Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned presents a certificate. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

“One of the negative effects is the amount of time being wasted. According to research, the average use of mobile phone technology is five hours per day, which is really excessive.”

Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz reminded the students about to depart for further studies abroad to avoid spending too much of their time online.

He emphasised the negative impacts of social media, including gossip, false information, child pornography and the sale of prohibited items.

“We often hear about bizarre events connected to the use of social media, such as students or youth running away with a friend they have just made on the Internet,” he said.

“The role of parents is not only important for young and underage children, but their role remains until their children grow into adulthood.

“Many parents choose to keep silent, instead of providing guidance to their growing children, particularly those attending university.

“They are complacent about whatever their children do. Whether they are spending an entire day on the phone or cooped up in their rooms browsing the Internet, parents are no longer paying attention to it.

“Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) continued to guide his children into their adult years. The role of parents is forever essential and it should never be diminished.”

The State Mufti also called on parents and teachers to continue encouraging children to recite Al-Quran.

“Brighten our homes with the recitation of Al-Quran, bring your children to the mosque on Fridays, and train and encourage them to recite Surah Al-Kahf,” he said.