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Expat parents not spending quality time with children Staff Reporter / 10 February 2014 TV and Internet primary culprits followed by daily chores, finds out 999 survey. Parents are spending much less time with their children compared to when they were growing up, according to a survey of more than 1,200 expatriates conducted by 999 magazine. The survey, conducted in January, points out that on average, expatriate parents in the UAE spend just 50 minutes of quality time with their children on a normal working day with a slight improvement on Thursdays (75 minutes). A variety of pressures of modern life — including increased workloads of parents and children, longer commuting time, and a near invasion of the lives by TV and the Internet — is eating into family time, maintain parents. The new poll shows that the UAE’s expatriate families have a little more than 11 hours together in total each week, with weekends the best time for family bonding. Even when families do get together, more than 62 per cent say the quality of time spent is not great as most of it is spent either in front of the TV, doing homework, reading, playing computer games or some other tasks that don’t qualify as quality family time. Experts are warning against the dangers of not spending enough quality time with children, maintaining that family time can be therapeutic and acts as a deterrent to potential serious problems. There are a number of issues that can come up when children receive little parental involvement and guidance, insists Dr Mehvash Ali, a licensed clinical psychologist in the US, who is currently working as Director for the Academic Centre at the American University of Sharjah. These include attention issues, acting out behaviour or conduct disorders, low self-esteem, low academic achievement, lack of religious values, and social problems, she maintains. “In later life, such children are at higher risk of developing mental health issues including mood disorders, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse. They are also more at risk of dropping out of school/college or having lower than expected academic achievement,” explains Dr Ali. According to the survey results, longer working hours in general and longer commuting time are the primary culprits for UAE families spending less time together as a majority of respondents cited these as the number one reason. Television and the Internet are among major reasons why expatriate families don’t spend quality time together, cited by 14 and 11 per cent of respondents, respectively. Household chores were the top reason for eight per cent of respondents while five per cent of the parents said that their children were of an age where they did not want to spend time with their parents. Lt-Colonel Awadh Saleh Al Kindi, Editor-in-Chief of 999, says, “Time spent with family results in fewer bouts of depression as members feel secure in being part of a supportive family. In addition, parental involvement helps parents themselves to de-stress because this provides them with an opportunity to be away from work-related activities.” (With inputs from Wam) firstname.lastname@example.org For more news from Khaleej Times, follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/khaleejtimes , and on Twitter at @khaleejtimes Continue reading →
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