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MediaFasting in Egypt

A study internationalizes.

In cooperation with the Heliopolis University College of Education (SEKEM, Egypt), the media fasting study was conducted in 2023 parallel to the time of Ramadan.

Due to the challenging financial situation in Egypt, the project material was redesigned while maintaining the project idea in cooperation with Dr. med. Silke Schwarz. The school, including family houses, as well as the pedagogical staff from SEKEM participated. With great commitment, a lot of creativity and close supervision, this project to increase awareness of digital screen media is very feasible even over the long period of Ramadan and meets the needs in the Egyptian-speaking world.
Results show significant changes in the use of digital screen media and readiness for long-term behavioral changes in Sekem/Egypt.

The implementation of MediaFasting in Egypt

Primary school children, 7th and 8th grade students and their parents participated in the MediaFasting in Egypt project.

At the beginning of the project, a meeting was held with the responsible teachers to discuss the tasks of the MediaFasting calendar. Furthermore, there was a meeting with the parents to give an introduction to the project and to explain how it could contribute to a reduction of media consumption during Ramadan. The project was well received by the parents and further suggestions were given on how the tasks could be carried out at home.

The MediaFasting calendar has been adapted for the different school classes. Elementary school children do not fast during Ramadan. As part of the media fast, they were encouraged to practice some values every day, taking advantage of the spiritual atmosphere of Ramadan.
Students from 7th and 8th grade collected clothes and donated them to those in need. In order to support a continuous commitment on the part of the students, a 15-minute feedback session was held every morning with the class teachers regarding the upcoming tasks of the MediaFasting calendar. From the parents‘ side, in addition to reducing media, the focus was on the social aspect, strengthening the quality of the relationship.

The MediaFasting calendar became an effective tool to encourage students to engage in meaningful and essential activities in their free time. For many working parents, it was difficult to find alternative activities to media consumption, so the MediaFasting calendar proved to be a good support. Parents found it gratifying to see their children enthusiastically pursuing the calendar’s tasks and thus actively participating in Ramadan. Teachers, who worked closely with parents, reported positive results and offered suggestions on how the project could be implemented in future years.

(G1) 30 students – 75 % participated – 25 % not interested
(G2) 26 students – 90 % participated – 10 % not interested
(G3) 24 students – 75 % participated – 25 % not interested
(G4) 24 students – 80 % participated – 20 % not interested
(G5) 24 students – 70 % participated – 30 % not interested
(G6) 24 students – 80 % participated – 20 % not interested
(G7) 18 students – 85 % participated – 15 % not interested
(G8) 25 students – 85 % participated – 15 % not interested

Heliopolis University (HU) in Sekem

Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development (HU) was founded in 2009 under the auspices of SEKEM. In doing so, the university strives for conscious sustainable development, social responsibility, economic solidarity and environmental balance (SEKEM, 2023, Heliopolis University, 2023).

Media usage in Egypt

The number of smartphone mobile network subscribers worldwide has risen steadily in recent years. In 2016, for example, there were 3.616 million users; by 2022, there were already 6.598 million. A further increase is expected in the coming years (Taylor, 2023).

In 2020, the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology published that 98.8 percent of Egyptian families use a smartphone, while landline phone use is 27.6 % (Egypt Today staff, 2020). The most used social networks and messengers in Egypt are Facebook (85%), WhatsApp (85%), Facebook Messenger (71.2%), and Instagram (65.7%; Lohmeier, 2023).

Studies on media usage in Egypt

Many studies have already explored media use and its impact in Egypt. A study in the International Journal of Internet Education looks at students‘ use of smartphone apps. The most frequently mentioned activities of students using apps include communication, following the news, finding friends, and searching for specific and general information. In the professional context, smartphones were used more for communication than for the learning purposes themselves. Students showed largely positive attitudes toward apps, and most apps were perceived as easy to use and helpful. Furthermore, apps would allow for faster searching of information and easier communication. Thus, apps were practical and convenient. Also, the majority of students said they trusted apps such as WhatsApp, email, Facebook, and YouTube. Of concern, however, was the lack of training about apps and a lack of awareness. Furthermore, it was noted that apps were time consuming, intimidating, addictive, and violated privacy (Mansour, 2016).

Various studies also explored the impact of media use in Egypt. In an Egyptian study of primary school-aged children, 52.4% showed problematic internet use, and internet addiction was evident in 4% of the students* (Ismail & Ali, 2018). The prevalence of internet addiction among students (18-24 years old) was 47.5%, with 35.5% showing moderate addiction and 12% showing severe addiction. This was more pronounced among male students and students under 21 years of age. Regarding socioeconomic status and parental education level, there were no statistically significant differences. Individuals who exhibited Internet addiction were more likely to smoke, exercise less, and sleep less than six hours. Internet addiction was higher among those who used the Internet for entertainment, gaming, and social communication. Internet addiction was less evident among individuals for whom its use was related to information seeking (Salama, 2020).

Another study from Egypt showed that problematic Internet use among adolescents was adolescents was related to social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and ADHD, among others (Reda, Rabie, Mohsen, Hassan, 2012). Findings by Elkholy and colleagues (2020) suggest the association of alexithymia and smartphone addiction. The association between smartphone addiction and musculoskeletal pain in Egyptian physical therapy students was also investigated. Here, a significant relationship was found between posture during smartphone use and the location and type of discomfort (Elserty, Helmy & Mounir, 2020).

However, many studies also point to the positive effects of media use. For example, there is evidence that media in Egypt proved to be helpful in finding a job (cf. Bernhardt, Mays & Hall, 2012), and regarding health-related issues, many reports also point to the beneficial aspects of media (cf. „100 Million’Health“; Adel, 2015; Katz, 2008; Mahfouz, 2019; Mansour, 2017).


Adel, R. (2015). Egyptian consumers’ perception of social media as health information source. JMR, 7(4), 267-285.

Bernhardt, J. M., Mays, D., & Hall, A. K. (2012). Social marketing at the right place and right time with new media. Journal of Social Marketing, 2(2), 130-137.

Egypt Today staff (2020). 98% of Egyptian families own mobile phone. Retrieved from:

Elkholy, H., Elhabiby, M., & Ibrahim, I. (2020). Rates of alexithymia and its association with smartphone addiction among a sample of university students in Egypt. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 304.

Heliopolis University (2023). Faculties. Retrieved from:

Ismail, T., & Ali, M. (2018). Problematic internet use through smartphones among school adolescents in Sohag City, Egypt. The Egyptian Journal of Community Medicine, 37(1), 25-34.

Katz, J. E. (2008). Handbook of mobile communication studies. The MIT Press.

Lohmeier, L. (2023). Ranking der beliebtesten Social Networks und Messenger nach dem Anteil der Nutzer in Ägypten im Jahr 2022. Retrieved from:

Mahfouz, M. (2019, June). Social Media and its Role in the Success of 100 Millions Health Campaign in Egypt. In RAIS Conference Proceedings-The 13th International RAIS Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities.

Mansour, E. (2016). Use of smartphone apps among library and information science students at South Valley University, Egypt. International journal of internet education, 15(1), 30-62.

Mansour, E. (2017). Health informatics: The ownership and use of mobile medical applications among Egyptian patients. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 49(3), 335-355.

Reda, M., Rabie, M., Mohsen, N., & Hassan, A. (2012). Problematic internet users and psychiatric morbidity in a sample of Egyptian adolescents. Psychology, 3(08), 626.

Salama, B. (2020). Prevalence and associated factors of Internet addiction among undergraduate students at Al-Beheira Governorate, Egypt. International Journal of Public Health, 65, 905-910.

SEKEM (2023). Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development. Retrieved from:

Soliman Elserty, N., Ahmed Helmy, N., & Mohmed Mounir, K. (2020). Smartphone addiction and its relation to musculoskeletal pain in Egyptian physical therapy students. European Journal of Physiotherapy, 22(2), 70-78.

Taylor, P. (2023). Number of smartphone mobile network subscriptions worldwide from 2016 to 2022, with forecasts from 2023 to 2028. Retrieved from:

Further studies on (international) media use

Chen, L., & Nath, R. (2016). Understanding the underlying factors of Internet addiction across cultures: A comparison study. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 17, 38-48.

Derevensky, J. L., Hayman, V., & Gilbeau, L. (2019). Behavioral addictions: excessive gambling, gaming, Internet, and smartphone use among children and adolescents. Pediatric Clinics, 66(6), 1163-1182.

Fischer-Grote, L., Kothgassner, O. D., & Felnhofer, A. (2019). Risk factors for problematic smartphone use in children and adolescents: a review of existing literature. neuropsychiatrie, 33(4), 179.

Leihs, N. (2016). Mediensysteme in Wandel, Fokus Naher Osten. Retrieved from:

Russ-Mohl, S. (2015). Mediennutzung in arabischen Ländern. Retrieved from:

Sarla, G. S. (2019). Excessive use of electronic gadgets: health effects. The Egyptian Journal of Internal Medicine, 31(4), 408-411.

Shafeek, M. M., Battesha, H. H. M., Wadee, A., & Ibrahim, H. (2022). Influence of a smartphone use on dynamic balance in healthy adolescents. Human Movement, 23(2), 76-83.

Wahba, J., & Zenou, Y. (2005). Density, social networks and job search methods: Theory and application to Egypt. Journal of Development Economics, 78(2), 443-473.