August 26, 2019 – Under the patronage and in the presence of His Excellency Jamal Jarrah, Lebanese Minister of Information, Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) launched the Institute for Internet and Technology Addiction’s (INTA) first national awareness campaign at the Ministry of Information in Beirut.
Based on the groundbreaking work by NDU professors Dr. Maya Samaha Rupert, Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science – Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences (FNAS) and Vice Chair of INTA, and Dr. Nazir Hawi, Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science – FNAS and Chair of INTA, INTA is the first institute of its kind in Lebanon. Its mission is to act as national center of expertise in the prevention, interdisciplinary research, and dissemination of knowledge related to internet and technology overuse and abuse. The institute’s main purpose is to prevent and mitigate risks related to internet and technology addiction that have afflicted various groups across Lebanon.
The first campaign launched by the institute consists of a series of public service announcements (PSAs) on the dangers of internet and technology addiction to be shown on various media outlets, to help raise awareness about the issue, alongside billboard advertisements to be placed across the country.
Presiding over the launch as Master of Ceremonies, NDU’s Director of Public Affairs Protocol, Majed Bou Hadir, welcomed everyone to the proceedings and invited the main members to the stand.
NDU President, Fr. Pierre Najem, spoke first. Fr. Najem reflected on NDU’s role as a university: “Our mission began in 1736 and continues to this day, with our sights perpetually set on the each person as a whole.”
Fr. Najem also talked about NDU’s role in taking social initiatives by taking care of its students and raising awareness of national issues saying: “Last September, under the patronage and presence of His Excellency President Michel Aoun, we began an initiative on the dangers of addiction to the internet and technology, according to our own academic research. Today, with the launch of the national campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of internet and technology addiction, we continue to contribute to the heart of our mission: building people up to be their best selves.”
Fr. Najem concluded by thanking the various stakeholders who worked to help make INTA a reality.
HE Minister Jarrah spoke next thanking NDU for this major undertaking. Minister Jarrah reflected on the dangers that the overuse of internet and technology can pose and the fact that people might not be aware of them. He emphasized that the campaign was not about curtailing the use of IT, but rather on how best to use this tool for people’s benefit, not their detriment. Minister Jarrah concluded that the Ministry of Information will provide NDU with as much assistance as is needed as they embark on this common goal to raise awareness.
The Minister’s speech was followed by a showing of the various PSAs that serve as the main component of the campaign.
Following the PSAs, a video of Dr. Rupert was shown in which she discussed her decade-long work on the subject. Dr. Rupert focused on the international impact of the research stating that it has garnered over 900 citations in international journals since it began in 2008.
Dr. Hawi then spoke about the research proper, citing various statistics to demonstrate how widespread the issue is and discussed the various age ranges and the risks associate with them. He also provided statistics to demonstrate the seriousness of the issue.
Finally, Georges Najem, CEO of Clementine – the advertising agency which helped brainstorm the PSAs and billboard ads for the campaign – expressed his company’s keen interest in this topic and willingness to work NDU to help fulfill the vision.