Nearly half of students in the Arab world believe content posted on the internet should be censored or banned, data from the American University of Beirut has found.
The report, Youth in the Arab World, also revealed illegal downloading is rife in the Middle East, with 80 percent of respondents admitting they had never purchased a product online, despite downloading at least one product.
The report questioned 2,744 university and high school students in Jordon, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, about their media consumption habits.
Some 40 percent of students said web censorship should be ramped up, while another eight percent said web content should be “fully restricted or banned.”
Despite this, those surveyed “trusted new media to alarming levels and had little concern about privacy or surveillance threats,” with the majority using their real names for online profiles, the data showed.
Students have little qualms about capitalising on the net to illegally download music, games and movies for free, the report noted.
“They viewed the web as a place for freebies and frequently downloaded media content without paying for it.”
In terms of viewing, the most popular news genre among those polled was music and entertainment news, followed by international news and sports news.
Television was the most frequently used media, closely followed by texting, listening to music on a PC and talking on a mobile phone, the report said.
At the bottom of the list came magazines, books or blogs.
“The survey found participants highly adept at using new media,” the report noted. “They spent considerable time consuming new and traditional media, but much less time producing media content.”
Those that did produce content tended to steer away from Arabic-language, instead favouring English or French, the data showed.
“UAE participants and those of mid-to-upper income mainly used English across all media, while those from Jordan and those of lower-to-mid income used Arabic.”