Enhancing school curriculum to help kids navigate Internet
To ensure children and youth are equipped with the right skills to navigate the online world, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will be enhancing cyber wellness education.
A new Character and Citizenship Education curriculum will place greater emphasis on cyber wellness.
There will be more time spent on cyber wellness in schools and the curriculum will include interactive videos and discussion topics on the subject.
Speaking during the debate on the ministry's budget in Parliament yesterday, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung talked about the need to ensure that children and youth are equipped with the skills needed to navigate a social media landscape that is sometimes not very social.
Likening the duality of physical and online life to that of Bruce Wayne and Batman, Mr Ong said: "They (children and youth) have one real world life that parents can see and another one online, which they spend a lot of time on that parents do not see. As adults who did not grow up in this space, I don't think we fully understand it."
He added that with a powerful device in each child's hands, they can decide to use it to acquire knowledge for learning, or access undesirable materials.
They can use it to keep in touch with family and friends, or become addicted to digital entertainment. Youngsters can also record meaningful memories, or intrude into the privacy of others, or worse, commit a sexual offence.
The new curriculum will be progressively implemented in all primary and secondary schools from next year. Schools will spend about 50 per cent more time discussing cyber wellness issues with students.
One of the schools that has piloted such a programme is New Town Secondary School.
Vice-principal Yong Kek Shoong told TNP: "We wish to teach students that the online space is an expression and extension of oneself, and one's online behaviour can have consequences offline."
He stressed that this is especially in the case of cyber shaming or cyber bullying.
Mr Ow Gan Pin, head of department of Character and Citizenship Education at Dunearn Secondary, said: "While we are exposed to the many benefits of the online world, there are some trade-offs such as encountering negative experiences.
"Such experiences can impact one's mental health. For instance, one may become distressed when he or she is being ostracised online, or if he or she is the target of frequent rude and nasty online remarks."
He said together with a strengthened mental health programme, the cyber wellness curriculum will help children and youth develop the necessary skills and tools to be more resilient in the digital age.