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The Risks of Telephones, Computer systems & Know-how recognized worldwide

  • As the world adapts to a technology-dominated post-pandemic reality, public concern about the dangers of overconsumption increases.
  • Almost half (44%) of all people are worried about the effects of internet and smartphone use on their health, according to a major new survey by the Saudi Arabia-based cultural institute Ithra.
  • At an event to launch its digital wellbeing program – Sync – Ithra announced plans for an annual global summit to be held in December.

According to the survey, the overwhelming majority (88%) of respondents worldwide agree that technology can be a great force for progress, with key benefits such as access to news, connectivity and freedom.

Many of these benefits have been brought to the fore by the COVID-19 outbreak, with 64% attributing to technology that it helped fight the pandemic. However, the result is that almost everyone (91%) is spending more time online as a result.

Abdullah Al-Rashid, Director of Ithra’s Digital Wellbeing Program Says: “As an organization dedicated to individual enrichment, we at Ithra want to understand the cultural implications of humankind’s growing dependence on the internet and social media. Unfortunately, our research shows that half of all people believe that being overly dependent on these platforms affects their wellbeing.

That’s why we’re launching Sync – a new initiative that aims to raise awareness of digital wellbeing, support novel research in partnership with global organizations, and unite thought leaders around the world to find new ways to protect the public. “

A strong force for good!

Mitigated by assembly concerns

Despite this underlying positivity, Ithra’s results highlight significant concerns about the harmful effects of unchecked access:

  • In terms of Relationships, 42% of respondents believe technology cuts the time they spend with loved ones, and over a third (37%) blame it for blurring the lines between work and social life. Parenting is also affected: 44% of people with children admit that they use a computer or smartphone unsupervised. These numbers are even higher in North America (60%) and Europe and Central Asia (58%).
  • On the impact of technology on Bless you, half (44%) of all people say they are concerned. Respondents in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia appear to be the most concerned, with 74% and 56% respectively concerned about the negative impact of the internet on wellbeing, compared with just 27% in Europe and Central Asia. In line with the group’s increasing device use, younger people have more physical symptoms than older people: 50% of Generation Z respondents complain of fatigue, sleep disorders and headaches as a result of digital consumption.
  • Almost half (48%) of respondents spend more time online than they’d like, with 41% admitting withdrawal symptoms without access to their devices. Sleep deprivation is also a significant problem, with 51% of respondents skipping sleep every week and one in four (24%) every day to use technology.

A commitment to prioritize digital wellbeing

Aware of the long-term potential impact of these trends, Ithra is campaigning for a signature program – Sync – to support and promote efforts to prioritize public digital well-being.

This includes a symposium in December 2021 that will bring together global thought leaders, institutions, influencers and the general public to raise awareness of digital wellbeing and develop new ideas for protecting digital media users around the world.

To learn more, visit

About Ithra

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is one of the most influential cultural destinations in Saudi Arabia, a destination for the curious, creative, and knowledge seeker. Ithra creates world-class experiences in its interactive public spaces through a compelling array of programs, performances, exhibitions, events and initiatives. These combine culture, innovation and knowledge in a way that appeals to everyone. By connecting creatives, challenging perspectives and transforming ideas, Ithra prides itself on inspiring future cultural leaders. Ithra is Saudi Aramco’s flagship CSR initiative and the kingdom’s largest cultural center, which includes an ideas laboratory, library, cinema, theater, museum, energy exhibition, great hall, children’s museum and Ithra Tower.

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