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Ithra: Digital Wellbeing Global Report 

by Madaline Dunn

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) has shared the findings of its second Digital Wellbeing Global Report. 

Conducted as a survey of 35,000 members of the public over 18 years of age, in 35 nations across five continents, this year’s participation saw more than double the number of participants in the first Digital Wellbeing Global Report in 2021.

Ithra, along with partners, designed and completed the largest-of-its-kind survey to provide insight into how people view their digital lives.

The findings of the updated survey were categorised into six themes: 

  • Balanced use of technology, 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), 
  • Social media, 
  • Gaming, 
  • Work, and 
  • Government regulation. 

The report found that, overall, people are finding a “better balance” in their use of technology and are increasingly aware of its negative impact on their health.

In the UAE, specifically, it was found that the number of those spending “too much time online had dropped by a fifth in the last two years. 

That said, it was highlighted that while digital technology enables hybrid and flexible working, it also affects personal boundaries. In the UAE, it was noted that most still work in person.

On AI, while 78 per cent of the UAE public views AI as a positive force, many were found not to understand it and the report found that there is widespread support for pausing further AI development until regulations are established. 

In fact, the report found that the public is calling for greater regulation of technology, citing data collection as their biggest concern. 

In the UAE, people shared that they have confidence in their government’s ability to regulate content on the internet.

The report also revealed signs of entering a new era of social media. 

Countries with more active social media view it as a force for societal good, but many are concerned about online bullying. 

A quarter of respondents have been bullied online, a figure that was higher in the UAE (at 29%).

On the gaming side of things, it was found that while most gamers, and around two-thirds in the UAE, say it has a positive impact on their lives, for those who are “more avid,” gaming is an escape mechanism.

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