Students gather around computers, playing their favourite games and surfing the Internet under the watchful eyes of Cyber Patrol officers. At CHIJ Katong Primary School, this is a familiar sight.
“Children are exposed to the Internet at an earlier age than before and their young minds may not be ready for the possible online dangers. Cyber Wellness education raises their awareness and teaches them to protect themselves,” said Mdm Elsie Yong, one of the Cyber Patrol officers.
Recognizing the importance of cyber wellness education in this digital age, parent volunteers formed the Cyber Wellness Patrol to ensure that students do not stumble or enter undesirable websites. To further understand online issues and cyber safety, some also attended a training session at the school’s Cyber Smart @ IJ Day.
While on Cyber Patrol duty, Mdm Yong shares with students the age restrictions of different applications and explains the reasons for these limitations. They would also discuss about safe online behaviour and management of cyber bullies .
Parents’ Role in Cyber Wellness Education
“I think that Cyber Wellness education should be mandatory for all parents with young children. Busy parents tend to lack knowledge, such as the dangers of excessive Internet usage and the minimum age requirement of 13 years old for social media platforms, which results in children spending excessive time online,” opines Mdm Brenda Ang, a parent volunteer.
“Many parents also mistakenly use the computer or smart device as a “babysitting” tool or carrot for young children.”
The Cyber Patrol officers are group of parents from the school’s Parent Support Group. By volunteering, schools and parents can share the same vision and Cyber Wellness messages can be reinforced in school and at home. Despite busy schedules, parents can also take a breather and be reminded of these messages.
Tips on Cyber Wellness at Home
To manage her child’s use of the computer at home, Mdm Yong lays down a few rules, such as limiting the time spent, protecting her laptop and iPad with passwords and ensuring the presence of an adult whenever her child is using the Internet. She also takes time to engage her daughter on the possible dangers lurking on the Internet.
“I believe in having a life outside of Cyberspace,” adds Mdm Ang.
Instead of using digital devices to occupy her children’s time, she creates opportunities for family bonding and outdoor activities, through which she hopes to impart good values. She believes that soft skills, such as building relationships and communicating effectively with people, are as important as ICT skills.
Mdm Ang also refrains from being constantly on her device, to ensure that her children do not feel left out or develop a wrong perception that such digital devices are more important than them.
For more information, check out the how you can help your child navigate cyber space, and set parental controls.