Children and Social Media in the Gulf Area: A Living Lab to identify and explore children’s uses, and the possible risks and opportunities

Digital and social media have wide-ranging implications for children’s mental health and wellbeing, as well as the achievement and the infringement of children’s rights. Drawing on our unique Living Lab methodology to work with children and other key stakeholders, this project explores how children in the Gulf area are using digital media, with a focus on understanding how mental wellbeing among children may be impacted by participation in social media; the efforts that can be undertaken in the short term to prevent and respond to the types of incidents of risky behaviours that have been reported; and the variety of policies, services, and measures provided by national actors to address the mental health of children engaged in social media.


The findings from this project informed the development of recommendations and a strategy to guide efforts to leverage digital media to support children’s mental health and wellbeing. These outputs will assist the Saudi Arabian Family Affairs Council, and UNICEF Gulf Area Office implement policies and programs to best support children’s safe, productive and enjoyable digital media practices in the Gulf Area.


Image: Workshop with key government, NGO and community officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 26 February, 2019.


Image: View of downtown Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 27 February, 2019) - photo by Amanda Third.


Professor Amanda Third



UNICEF Gulf Area Office


February – July 2019