The Family Panel of the AMP 4 National Convention will be centring their discussion based on the theme of strengthening the Muslim family institution through Islamic values, with two sub-themes:
1) The impact of digital devices on family values and relationships; and
2) The importance of healthy communication on sexuality education between members of the family institution.
Social critics have described the modern period as an age of disconnections that are disruptive to collectivist norms that have traditionally shaped the family unit. It is characterised by the radical will of freedom and individualism in which the familial space is no longer seen as a sanctuary; rather, it becomes something of a prison.
Today, the growing ubiquity of technology means that the family unit has significantly been transformed by handheld devices and other everyday digital technologies. Technological developments have induced inevitable social disruptions as its broad array of possibilities allows access to sexual content that has reshaped and continues to reshape the way we conceive of traditional family life and norms.
In addressing the ways of strengthening the family institution, we have to understand the impact of digital devices on family values and relationships and the importance of healthy communication on sexuality education between members of the family institution.
Research conducted by the Family Panel has uncovered the following:
Impact of Technological Disruption
Youths who are early adopters of technology resort to digital devices and the Internet for communication and information. Respondents agree that this significantly deviates from face-to-face interaction to non-verbal communication, causing ramifications on parent-child relationships.
Facilitating Technological Awareness
As perceived by respondents, the prevalent use of technology leads to greater exposure to inappropriate and unsuitable content for children. One of them highlighted the need for programmes in school to promote technological awareness and a value-based approach to enhance ethics in technology in order for children to discern information better and navigate technology independently.
Role of Parents in Supervising Technological Usage
It is also found that parents use technology as an alternative form of education and entertainment. However, it brings about the issue of excessive screen time. Respondents proposed close supervision and regulation of technological usage amongst their children. At the same time, according to respondents, parents are also advised to tap into social support and adopt traditional parenting styles instead of relying on convenient solutions like gadgets.
Sexuality as a Fear-Inducing Topic
Respondents highlighted the infrequent discussions about sex education between parents and children due to fear of normalising notions of gender fluidity and sexual orientation.
Role of Parents in Sexuality Education
According to them, while parents want to be more involved in the topic with children, they also lack the expertise and knowledge to discuss it objectively, necessitating parenting workshops on sexuality that can provide transformative changes in the long run.
Sexuality Education as Firmly Rooted in Religious Doctrine
As a taboo topic, discussions, and conversations surrounding sexuality are atypical in our safe spaces – homes, mosques, and institutions. Due to the lack of safe spaces, respondents strongly call for the formation of such spaces to encourage deeper conversations on sexuality, keeping them mentally sane and physically healthy.
Sexuality as a Discourse is Complex and Highly Contested
One respondent stated how competing interests and opinions of different organisations regarding notions of sexuality i.e., homosexuality is highly contested, giving the impression of a lack of uniformity. This makes it difficult for Muslim organisations to consolidate efforts toward the advocacy of certain issues, especially when organisations tend to operate in silos.
Given that issues of gender and sexuality can be highly convoluted, respondents expressed the need to streamline efforts such that the Muslim community is reaffirmed of the current leadership.