The rapid pace of digitalisation came to forefront at a side event organised by Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) – a member of Qatar Foundation – on the occasion of the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development (CSocD62), at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Under the theme ‘Navigating the Digital Landscape: Fostering Resilient Families in a Transforming World’, the event was held ahead of the conference commemorating the 30th anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2024 (IYF+30) in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Qatar to the UN.

Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations Her Excellency Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al Thani said, “Qatar believes that navigating the digital landscape and its impact on families requires a multidimensional approach that puts the best interests of the family at the forefront in terms of policies and strategies related to technology, but also includes government, tech companies and families working together to ensure a safe and empowering digital environment.”

Executive Director of DIFI Dr Sharifa Al Emadi highlighted the importance of addressing the overarching trends and their implications on family policies globally, saying: “According to a study conducted by DIFI on ‘Assessing marital relationships in the first five years of marriage across the Arab countries’ in partnership with the League of Arab States, it was found that technology plays a role in connecting people.

“It also contributes to the increase of what is called ‘Electronic Marriage Phenomenon’, especially among Arab Mashreq countries. Yet, the same study found out that ‘Digital Infidelity’ is one of the contributing factors to early divorce by 7.6 percent from a sample of 1,184 respondents across the Arab world.”

Li Junhua, under-secretary-general of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), said: “If we are to harness the transformative power of digital technologies to create inclusive and just societies, we need to bridge the digital divide, foster resilient families and promote the responsible use of digital technologies.”

Renata Kaczmarska, focal point of the Family at the Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD) of UNDESA, said: “We have witnessed an unprecedented technological transformation over the past few decades. It shapes our economies at large and impacts many aspects of family life and well-being.”

Recommendations for future action include enhancing awareness of the importance of digital literacy and parental guidance in navigating the digital landscape responsibly, as well as a call to action for policymakers, educators and families to promote resilient families in the digital age and understanding of the multifaceted impact of digital change on families, fostering a collaborative approach to addressing both its opportunities and challenges.

The session concluded by renewing the commitment to bridging the digital divide and ensuring equitable access to digital technologies and resources for all families.

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