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Luna El Khaldy

Luna El Khaldy

Luna is a (cyber)psychologist focusing on Digital Wellbeing in families, helping parents and adolescents find balance and connection in the modern era. With an MSc in Psychology (with Distinction), a Consciously Digital (ICF-accredited) coaching certification, and a Transformational Parenting coaching certification, Luna can equip parents with the tools needed to become conscious digital parents.
With digital distractions all around us, Luna uses her expertise in neuroscience, CBT, and coaching to guide, educate, and help transform parent-child relationships in a world where evidence-backed advice has been scant thus far. Through her work, she strives to shift the conversations from fear and restriction, to enablement, through trust-based discourse within families. Her passion stems from her learnings with her own two adolescent children.
Luna is also the founder of Undistracted Parenting, an educational and support hub that raises awareness on the latest neuroscientific research related to children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing in the modern era (launching November 2023). In her previous endeavours, she was the co-founder and co-host of the Middle’ East’s leading Arabic parenting podcast, ‘Mishbilshibshib’, which amassed over 2 million downloads in the last 3 years. In the podcast, Luna and her co-host discussed the latest ‘psychology of parenting’ research, through the lens of an Arab sociocultural perspective, and aimed to help parents become more intentional, conscious, and peaceful.

Digitally parenting preteens in the UAE: A cross-cultural qualitative study

Parenting practices have always centred around keeping children safe, ensuring growth and bio-psycho-social development to help them reach their full potential. In today’s world, since digital practices are enmeshed in parenting processes in myriad ways, digital parenting is inseparable from the overall parenting experience. Digital parenting is defined as the guidance, management, and regulation of children’s relationships with digital technology. Digital parenting behaviours are complex and nuanced, and while previous studies into digital parenting focused on the strategies parents employ to mediate their children’s use of digital technologies, they have largely ignored parents’ perspectives, particularly the parents of preteens. Preteen years are a critical stage of development where dependent children begin their journey of autonomy, on their way to becoming healthy, independent adults. Notably, most digital parenting research has been quantitative and lacking in diverse ethno-cultural narratives.

This exploratory study aims to address the paucity in qualitative cross-cultural studies, by offering novel insights on parental mediation in Arab families residing in the technologically advanced United Arab Emirates (UAE). Underpinned by contextualism and using interpretive methodology, reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyse qualitative data gathered from five focus groups with 30 parents of preteens (aged 9-13). Parental perceptions, mediation strategies, and feelings were explored. Results highlighted sociocultural factors impacting digital parenting across two overarching themes: (i) “Digital parenting fatigue”, which captured parental frustrations and concerns, and (ii) “Shedding the past: From restriction to enablement through dialogue” which highlights how parents’ own cultural upbringing is impacting the way they choose to digitally parent their preteens differently. The second overarching theme lends the most insight into digital parenting from an Arab sociocultural perspective. It explains the cultural nuances that affected participants in their collectivist upbringing as antecedents to choosing enabling strategies, such as open dialogue and trust-based discourse, to mitigate online risks. Findings enrich existing research cross-culturally, creating a basis for future studies on digital parenting in the Middle East, and can inform policy makers, psychologists, and educators, in creating much-needed support systems for digital parents.

This topic is an insightful addition to the conference theme as it sheds light on parental digital practices and can inform psychologists in the Middle East of the novel insights that can help in their clinical practice given local sensitivities, with discussions surrounding shame in upbringing.

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