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March 5, 2024

Point of Contention: Sharenting is Caring?

What is “Sharenting”?

[caption id="attachment_454" align="aligncenter" width="451"] Local influencer Naomi Neo plays a Halloween ghost prank on her son Kyzo. She often features Kyzo on her TikTok account. Photo: TikTok[/caption] A portmanteau of “share” and “parenting”, the Oxford English Dictionary defines sharenting as “the practise of sharing news, images, or videos of one’s children on social media websites”. These include pictures of their new-borns in the crib, happy family moments, and milestones such as the child’s first day in school. It is an increasingly common trend among digitally savvy parents. Some also create social media accounts for their children to better facilitate the process. According to cross-cultural research conducted by internet security company, AVG:
  • 81% of mothers with babies aged two and below has posted a picture of their child before.
  • 5% of mothers created a social media account for their babies.
Another study by Nominet showed that the average UK parents posted nearly 1,500 pictures of their children by the time they are five years old. While data on sharenting in Singapore is still limited, many Singaporean parents are clearly onboard with the trend. It is also not rare to come across Instagram accounts of children being managed by Singaporean parents.

Pause & Think: How often do you sharent and what do you post?

Benefits of Sharenting      

[caption id="attachment_455" align="alignnone" width="531"] Kyzo has an Instagram account managed by his mother Naomi Neo with over a hundred posts and a sizable following. Photo: Instagram    [/caption] Beyond the trendiness, there are many good reasons to sharent:
  1. Record your child’s special moments.
  2. Stay connected to friends and family.
  3. Receive advice from friends and family.
  4. Raise awareness of your child’s needs.
  5. Manage your child’s social media presence.
Parents across the globe have shared heart-warming tales about how sharenting has helped tremendously. It is little wonder that it is a growing phenomenon.

Pause & Think: What reason motivates you or your friends to sharent?

Dangers of Sharenting   

[caption id="attachment_456" align="alignnone" width="379"] Local influencer Sarah Cheng-De Winne received backlash for sharing her daughter’s emotional distress. This reignited national conversation on the ethics and dangers of sharenting. Photo: TikTok[/caption] Most social media platforms bar users under the age of 13 because of the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The law was passed in 1998 to combat the collection of adolescent personal information amidst a rise in targeted marketing. Unfortunately, the protections do not extend to information that was sharented. This is dangerous as adolescent targeted marketing remains a big market. YouTube and Epic Games paid hefty fines for COPPA violations in 2019 and 2022 respectively. US regulators alleged that these companies illegally collected personal information and used it to manipulate children into making purchases. Furthermore, constant camera attention might be unhealthy for children’s development. Research indicated that primary school students who were filmed tend to be distracted and self-conscious. The camera creates an expectation of evaluation in the children, and this negatively impacts intrinsic motivation and creativity. Older children might even suppress their natural behaviour and emotions to influence views, likes or comments from online strangers. Emotional suppression has been linked to mental health problems such as depression and should be avoided.

 Pause & Think: What are some of your concerns about sharenting?


Like any other digital phenomenon, sharenting has its advantages and dangers. Momfluencer Bobbi Althoff is well aware of the dangers and makes sure that her children never appear on her page. The identities of her two daughters are a well-kept secret today but it wasn’t always like this. Her eldest daughter’s name, birth date, photos used to be freely available on her social media account. However, Bobbi became worried about her children’s safety after a run-in with mean comments in one of her videos. Overnight, she deleted all the posts with her daughter’s information. Read more about Bobbi and other momfluencers here. We do not have to go to the same length as Bobbi. The key here is to make an informed decision about when and what to sharent. Here are some of our recommendations:
  1. Ensure that the social media account the child appears on is private.
  2. Do not share sensitive information such as the child’s name, birthday, and school etc.
  3. Do not post content that might embarrass the child.
  4. As your child grows older, respect their requests to remove or not post content about them.
  5. Consider editing the content such as using emojis to cover the child’s face.

Pause & Think: What is one step you will take or recommend today?


Agbo, N. B. (2018). The effects of surveillance and evaluation expectation on the creativity of primary school pupils. British Journal of Education, 6(9), 25–36. This article was written by our intern, Yong Han, who conducted research & development for Media Literacy School. 
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  • February 27, 2024

    Escaping the Dangers of Echo Chambers

    (This article is written by our intern, Yuxin, an aspiring psychology student who specialises in curriculum and content creation for Media Literacy School.)

    What are Echo Chambers?

    Like its name suggests, many liken echo chambers as a mental chamber, trapping its prisoners in their own minds. In an echo chamber, opposing views are forbidden and banished. Instead, their beliefs bounce off the walls and are echoed back to them, effectively reinforcing the person’s views. Online, echo chambers prove to be even more insidious. The ever-developing algorithm pushes certain things away, and we won’t even know what we missed.  One truth about the internet? Try as you might, you are never truly in control. 

    The Danger of Echo Chambers and Their Impacts

    Alright, our views get stronger, but so what? Are they really as much of a monster people make them out to be? What is so wrong with echo chambers? 

    How are they so dangerous?

    Those who fall into echo chambers can find it incredibly hard to get out there. This phenomenon is not to be brushed off as “ignorance” or “naivety”. Contrary to popular belief, many people stumble into the echo chambers doing extensive research! So how, you ask, how did it go so wrong? People can fall victim to echo chambers when they unknowingly research disinformation. Additionally, with scattered information left around like bread crumbs on the internet, many scour the internet and form an opinion as they connect their own dots, be it wrong or not. With extensive research done, many form an exceptionally strong opinion and belief that they are right, falling helplessly deeper into the echo chamber. Knowing that they have done their research, many even coin critics as “uninformed” or even “corrupted”.  In an echo chamber, one’s belief can become strongly tied to their identity. They label their belief as part of their identity. While this may sound harmless, it is anything but that. When someone’s belief is so strong it becomes part of them, it becomes close to impossible to change their mind. Ultimately, you cannot prove an identity wrong.  While there are certain regulations online to prevent echo chambers, misinformation and disinformation from spreading, there are inevitable loopholes. When these information are presented as beliefs, these regulations become powerless against them. Besides, due to the difficulty in defining misinformation, regulations that aim to take down such content are weak and even susceptible to exploitations. This lowers the social implications for people intentionally spreading disinformation as well. 

    What are their impacts?

      One major implication of echo chambers is how it promotes the spread of disinformation. Not to be confused with misinformation, which could be an honest mistake, disinformation refers to the deliberate intent to mislead. After one has fallen into an echo chamber, the impact does not stop there. The victims turn into the perpetrator; the victims do not merely take in information, together with fellow believers, they ‘co create an adversarial fantasy’ (Diaz Ruiz, C., & Nilsson, T. , 2023) Furthermore, echo chambers distort a person’s perspective and cause them to be closed off to other sides of an argument. Due to their belief being so strong, they firmly believe they are right and automatically reject any opposing views. This can lead to an increase in social and political polarisation and extreme views, further dividing people online and encouraging the “us vs them” narrative. This can become a ticking time bomb for society’s peace as the social fabric becomes threatened. 

    Example of an echo chamber:

    For instance, an infamous echo chamber is the flat earth echo chamber. Flat earthers believe that the earth is flat, and not spherical. They claim that the spherical earth is merely an unproven theory or conspiracy. According to a study, as of July 2021, youtube channels about the flat earth have amassed around 4 million subscribers collectively. One may wonder how a person can believe something so absurd and ridiculous when there is overwhelming evidence proving the earth is, in fact, not flat.  The flat earth theory came about in recent decades. In summary, this idea of flat earth gained popularity because people began to doubt science. Science and technology was advancing faster than most laymen could catch up in understanding. For some, as compared to a century ago, science has become something so incomprehensible that they could neither believe nor accept. This led to some flat earthers turning to naive empiricism. ‘Naive empiricism is the belief that knowledge emerges from personal observation’. They use real-life experiences like feeling if the earth is spinning below their feet or the flat horizon to justify the flat earth theory. They thus reject facts and objectifiable knowledge, believing only their personal experiences. Hardly ashamed of their belief, many of them proudly identify as a flat earther. They judge their beliefs as "ahead of time", and that eventually everyone else would come to realise that the earth was actually flat. This suggests that when their identity is tied so closely to their belief, convincing them otherwise is simply out of the question. 

    Social Media - Virality & Human Emotions

    In today’s digital age, social media has an increasing presence in our daily lives that can no longer be overlooked. The chances of falling victim to an echo chamber online is now a true danger we must acknowledge. So what are some characteristics of social media that makes it a place to encourage the formation of echo chambers? Firstly, the internet allows us to meet different people online from all over the world. It becomes all too easy to meet like-minded people online —they are quite literally a click away. This means no matter how absurd an idea is, one can always find someone online to agree with them, making the formation of echo chambers much easier.  Furthermore, youths today are extra vulnerable to echo chambers online. Youths, especially the younger children who are more or less chronically online these days, are bombarded with information from social media – which is not the most reliable source of information, to say the least. Many youths tend to follow whatever viral content they see blindly. If it’s viral, and the comment section is filled with netizens agreeing, it must be true…right? Well, there is a tendency of the "Black and White Thinking" - a thought pattern that makes people think in absolutes, and is highly generalised. They fail to capture the true nuanced nature an issue is in real life, pushing the idea that only one answer is right.  What they do not realise is the calculative nature of social media. Sure, many influencers post out of goodwill and share genuine advice, but I believe that even more influencers post with the sole intention of going viral. Social media platforms have algorithms that automatically favour viral content by recommending it more to people, worsening the situation. In fact, viral content may even start a trend and more people will post similar content in hopes of their posts gaining traction. This leads to a vicious cycle, as youths get bombarded with seemingly more content that may be unreliable, biassed or downright untrue.  And what type of content usually goes viral? Content that plays on people’s negative emotions. Emotions like insecurity, anger, sadness can be used merely as a tool to gain clicks and likes. These types of content go viral because of how relatable they can be, and many feel heard and validated as people connect over shared experiences and views.

    Recognising Echo Chambers & Common Tactics Used

    Common Tactics

    What are some common tactics used to reject opposing views? 
    1. They have “purity tests”. These “tests” ask for insiders to be loyal and devoted to their belief. On the other hand, the standards of these “tests” become more demanding for critics. Critics are often held to unreasonably high moral standards. Many are accused of being corrupted and having bad intentions, especially if they hold great power or have the ability to influence the masses. It becomes impossible for anybody disagreeing with them to pass these “tests”. 
    2. They reverse the responsibility of ensuring their opinions are factual to their critics. They do so by nitpicking the credibility of their critics and asking their critics to prove them wrong instead.
    3. They use partial truths, fake news, moral judgements and controversies to strengthen their arguments. 

    How do you know if you have become a victim?

    Five signs that you are in an echo chamber:
    1. Your community only has one perspective on the issue. This is common in echo chambers as they find it hard to accept other viewpoints.
    2. Strong emotional language is used. Elements like using all capital letters, exclamation marks, and strong superlatives are all tactics used by them to create a facade of close relationship with readers.
    3. Personal pronouns like “You” and “I” are used to involve the reader and relate to them more, creating a sense of community.
    4. The stand on an issue is supported by untrue, incomplete or overblown evidence. Echo chambers often are backed by weak arguments.
    5. Facts are ignored when they do not support the stand of the community. Being closed off to their detractors, no matter what credible evidence is presented before them, it is likely to be rejected.

    How to avoid echo chambers?

    Recognising the existence and danger of echo chambers is not nearly enough, for we must learn how to avoid them.  Firstly, you should cross check your evidence with multiple credible and verified sources. This way, you can avoid disinformation and form a fair opinion based on reliable evidence.  Secondly, you can engage in respectful and constructive discussions with people that have opposing views from you. By practising an open mind, you become less susceptible to echo chambers as you are able to critically think for yourself and form an unbiased or broad opinion. This can also be done through following channels or sources that provide opposing perspectives from you, as the algorithm on social media platforms may automatically leave them out of your feed. Additionally, we should be aware of a phenomenon called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias refers to our tendency to agree with information confirming our existing views. It is simply human nature to search for and favour information that confirms or supports our prior beliefs or values, and we may find it hard to accept new opinions immediately. Before forming an opinion, we must first be aware of our confirmation bias, and deduce whether it is affecting our judgement on the matter.


    Echo chambers are more insidious and complicated than most believe it to be. As this phenomenon becomes an inherent part of this developing digital age, I hope that this article sheds some light on how echo chambers work, the impact they can have and how to avoid it.   


    1. Allison Arteaga S. (2022, June 28) These red flags can let you know when you’re in an online echo chamber. UC Santa Cruz. Retrieved from
    2. Benson, T. (2023, January 20). The Small but Mighty Danger of Echo Chamber Extremism. Wired. Retrieved from
    3. Cabianca, P., Hammond, P., & Gutierrez, M. (2020, November 18). What is a Social Media Echo Chamber? The University of Texas at Austin, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations. Retrieved from
    4. Diaz Ruiz, C., & Nilsson, T. (2023). Disinformation and Echo Chambers: How Disinformation Circulates on Social Media Through Identity-Driven Controversies. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 42(1), 18-35.
    5. Dhulipala. (2023, September 27). The echo chamber effect: How algorithms shape our worldview. Campaign Asia. Retrieved from
    6. GCF Global. (n.d.). What is an Echo Chamber? [Webpage]. Retrieved from
    7. Harris, J. (2020, February 19). Why People Think the World is Flat [Video]. YouTube.
    8. IESE Business School. (2021, June 16). Avoiding Echo Chambers: 5 Strategies To Beat Confirmation Bias. Forbes. Retrieved from:
    9. kaedee. (2023, June 9). The FYP: Your Personal Echo Chamber [Video]. YouTube.
    10. LearnFree. (2019, June 18). What is an Echo Chamber? [Video]. YouTube.
    11. MinuteVideos. (2016, December 28). Filter Bubbles and Echo Chambers [Video]. YouTube.
    12. Science In The News. (2023). Facebook and the echo chamber: Scientists examine how social media affects political views. Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved from
    13. Sumsub. (2021, August 10). Filter Bubbles & Echo Chambers: How the Internet Affects Your Mind [Video]. YouTube.
    14. TED. (2011, May 2). Beware online "filter bubbles" | Eli Pariser [Video]. YouTube.
    15. TEDx Talks. (2019, April 9). Challenge The Echo Chamber | Adam Greenwood | TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells [Video]. YouTube.
    July 18, 2023

    Social Media, Healthy Use & Well-Being – A Curated Set of Reading Resources

    (Reader mode is recommended for optimal viewing on mobile devices.) Mental health & cyber wellness has become one of the top issues facing young people today. Trends point toward youths who are more stressed out, anxious and display greater signs of depression. The unhealthy use of digital devices and social media is seen to be one of the key predictors, causing lesser sleep, fear of missing out, social comparison, negative self-esteem and online aggression. We have curated a set of reading resources that helps explains how the fundamental business models of social media (such as targeted advertising & the attention economy) drive the design of social media features & usage patterns that compromise mental health. Read on to learn how to evaluate youths for addictive use of technology, identify depressive symptoms, and more importantly engage youths and manage use of social media practically.
    Description of Reading Title of Reading Link
    Brief Overview of Social Media Usage in Singapore The Complete Guide to Social Media Statistics in Singapore
    Benefits & Harms of Social Media Usage for Children The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families
    Addictive Nature of Social Media The Pursuit of "Likes"
    What Students are Posting Online Students Posting Their Teachers on Social Media: What is Wrong?
    The Dangers of Targeted Advertising for Children Advertisers Targeting Children Online
      We conduct regular professional development and cyber wellness programmes in schools, contact us to find out more today.  
    April 28, 2023

    Hyperpersonal Danger of Online Communication

    (Reader mode is recommended for optimal viewing on mobile devices.) It was a chilling moment when Mdm Kwek discovered that her 13-year-old daughter, Celestine, was talking to an online groomer. Celestine’s lady 'friend' had somehow twisted his way into her daughter’s confidence and convinced her to willingly share sensitive personal details. While encounters with online strangers might at times be romanticised in modern dramas such as K-drama Twenty Five Twenty One, it is important to understand how dire the situation might become if things go awry in real life. [gallery link="file" columns="1" size="full" ids="320"] Case Study In 2020, 13-year-old Celestine started talking to a woman named Carolana on Minecraft. They connected really well, and Celestine felt that Carolana truly understood her. Carolana always seemed supportive with messages such as “You can always tell me anything if it helps ok.” Within two weeks, they exchanged personal information such as real name, age, and family photos. One day, Celestine’s mother Mdm Kwek read these exchanges and came to a horrifying realisation. Carolana was actually a man and Celestine was being groomed. Read more here. Unfortunately, there are several other adolescents in Singapore who are in similar situations as Celestine. According to a report by DQ Institute released in the same year, roughly one in five Singaporean adolescents have experienced risky online contact, such as offline meetings with strangers or sexual contacts. So why exactly are online-cultivated relationships so appealing? First, let’s examine some myths about online communication and why they are not valid: [gallery link="file" columns="1" size="full" ids="400"] Misunderstandings of online communication could make us vulnerable to the threat of online stranger danger. It is hence important for us to acknowledge the power of the written word and online communication. Once we shed these dangerous assumptions, the next step is to understand exactly how close online friendships can happen. One way to do so is through the Hyperpersonal Model of Computer Mediated Communication. Hyperpersonal Model (Walther, 1996, 2021) [gallery link="file" columns="1" size="full" ids="421"] The core idea of the model is that digital features and limitations can promote personal intimate connections. Such connections, termed ‘hyperpersonal relationships’, form due to the absence of nonverbal cues and the asynchronous (not occurring at the same time) nature of online communication. Let’s return to the example of Celestine and the online groomer ‘Carolana’. Behind the screen Unbeknownst to Celestine, ‘Carolana’ has been carefully managing his image. He has time – online communication follows a different clock and rhythm from real life. His words need not match his true feelings as his facial expressions are hidden. For example, he can appear more sympathetic online than he would otherwise face to face. The ability to edit messages allows ‘Carolana’ to say the right words at the right time. Statements like “You are like me and I know you would never mean to hurt upset anyone unless they upset you” are especially powerful since Celestine was seeking emotional support. On the other end, Celestine makes decisions based on what is presented. In the absence of nonverbal cues, she tends to overinterpret message content and style when making judgements of personality and trustworthiness. The interpretations tend to be positive (and no wonder, given how much effort ‘Carolana’ spent curating his message!). This idealised image is unconsciously conveyed when Celestine replies to ‘Carolana’. This leads ‘Carolana’ to adjust his online image accordingly which then reinforces Celestine’s initial impression. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that repeats itself until the day when the ‘Carolana’ became Celestine’s most trusted confidante – even though they have never met before. Conclusion It is time for us to stop burying our heads in the sand and instead, fully acknowledge the draw of online communication. As digitalisation continues unabated, it is more important than ever to know who your child is talking to online. These individuals are not just passing or peripheral influences on your child. On the contrary, they might grow too close for both you and your child's comfort. Therefore, always remember: Online stranger danger is real! References Walther, J. B., & Whitty, M. T. (2021). Language, Psychology, and New Media: The Hyperpersonal Model of Mediated Communication at Twenty-Five Years. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 40(1), 120–135.   This article is written by our intern, Yong Han, who conducts research & development for Media Literacy School. 
    December 9, 2022

    ‘Tis the Season for Battle Passes

    (Reader mode is recommended for optimal viewing on mobile devices.) The holiday season is almost here, and you are probably looking forward to a well-deserved break and a nice family vacation. Excited to share your plans, you look around the house for your children. When you finally find them, they have their headphones on, and eyes glued to the screen. They are gaming and completely uninterested in what you have to say. If this sounds familiar, it is not your fault – the attention of teenagers has been captured by gaming companies. What many teenagers are concerned with nowadays are whether they can hit the highest rank before the season ends or finish grinding their battle passes. [gallery link="file" columns="1" size="large" ids="171"]

    Types of Gamers

    According to the self-determination theory, people game to fill one of three psychological needs:
    1. Competence - Experience of Mastery
    2. Relatedness - Sense of Belonging
    3. Autonomy - Ability to Choose
      Corresponding with the above needs are the following three types of players: Achievers, Befrienders and Free Spirits. Can you identify which category your child belongs to? [gallery link="file" columns="1" size="full" ids="173"]

    Seasonal Gameplay: Keeps Players Coming Back with New Content

    Live-service games such as Valorant and Overwatch 2 are adopting a “season”-driven release schedule plus battle pass system. Each season lasts about 10-20 weeks (the specific duration depends on the game), and its start is marked by the release of new game content. Breaking the game up into seasons keeps it fresh and attracts new and old players who are Free Spirits. Changes can be anything from new game modes to new playable characters. Befrienders are also likely to rope their friends back in to experience the new season together. Furthermore, game progress is reset every season, so players who are Achievers must keep spending time on the game to maintain their rank. [gallery link="none" columns="1" size="full" ids="160"]

    Battle Passes: Reward Players and Encourage Non-stop Gaming  

    The battle pass is a tiered reward system that players can purchase to unlock additional content as they play. Desirable ‘skins’ (in-game cosmetics) and other bonuses are awarded when certain milestones are met. Players often spend hundreds of hours to complete or “grind” the entire battle pass and maximise its monetary value. Finishing the battle pass is considered an Achievement and a point of pride. The in-game cosmetics are also exclusive to the battle pass and cannot be purchased elsewhere. This makes it incredibly hard for Free Spirits to resist – they are afraid they will never possess the skin if they miss it now. This is problematic as on average, it takes a Valorant player about 1,800 hours to complete all four battle passes released in a year. That is 75 days of non-stop gaming. [gallery columns="1" link="file" size="full" ids="161"]


    Game companies are using these systems to increase player engagement and retention. This is part of the companies’ goal of extracting as much monetary value out of their players as possible. The more time players spend on a game, the more they might be tempted to spend on it. Seasonal gameplay and battle pass trap players by targeting their different needs. Drop the futile attempts to stop your child from gaming, and perhaps consider having a chat with them to understand their gaming motivations - Are they Achievers, Befrienders or Free Spirits? By understanding and speaking to your child’s needs, you might have more success in getting them onboard with your plans this holiday season. Outplay these companies at their own game! This article is written by our intern, Yong Han, who conducts research & development for Media Literacy School. His areas of research interests include video gaming, their psychological mechanisms and the impacts they have on users. 
    April 10, 2020

    Improving the Quality of Your Children’s Screen Time: Examples and Tips for Parents

    What is your child doing when he/ she uses devices and screens? Are there ways to choose better screen time? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend less than 2 hours of daily screen time for primary school children. It goes on to state that these should be “high-quality content”.
    1. How can parents choose "high quality content"?
    2. How can parents improve the “quality of screen time” for our children?

    1) Choose interactive screen time

    In general, interactive screen time will provide better stimulation and learning compared to passive reception.
    • Examples of passive screen time will be TV and videos
    • Examples of interactive screen time will be multi-player games, educational applications that require responses from the user & Google Map
    quality screen time cyber wellness singapore Five year-old Chase loves to hold the GPS when travelling. He loves selecting his favourite car and “navigating” it on the iPad. Occasionally he looks up and matches the surrounding landmarks to what he sees on the tablet. This visual interaction between screen and physical objects trains him to interpret a 3D environment from a 2D screen. Car journeys are much more engaging and healthy with such screen time. Some other examples of interactive screen time:
    • Taking photos and making videos instead of merely watching them
    • Exploring a trip destination with Google Earth
    quality screen time for children cyber wellness singapore While interactive screen time usually teaches better than passive screen time, it is also important to scrutinize the content.
    • Harmful interactive content (such as video games where players kill and commit crimes) will teach unhealthy practices more effectively compared to just movies of similar content.
    • Likewise, interactive prosocial behaviour is more effectively imparted in an interactive manner

    2) Interact with your child over screen time

    Besides choosing apps and programmes that are interactive, parents can also mediate in all screen time by watching programmes and playing games with their children. It will be even better if they follow up with questions to stimulate the children’s thinking. Eleven year-old Elizabeth interacts with her friends over online chats and Google +. One of her favourite sites showed a post that gives users a “sexy name” based on their month of birth. Her father (who interacts with her over Google +) talks to her about how “sexy names” promote a demeaning image and attract the wrong kind of friends. Elizabeth responds by blocking similar sites out of her own will. (2 years later, Elizabeth also distances herself from schoolmates who send her such content.) Research shows that when parents discuss negative content on screens with their children, the children fare just as well as those who do not encounter these negative content. quality screen time family conversations cyber wellness singapore In the digital age where it is difficult to ensure a sterile media environment for our children, interaction and processing is KEY to cyber wellness. Interactive screen-time is a powerful teaching tool for young children today. Do not allow it to shape your child’s mind in unintended ways. You can help your child get more out of technology. Look out for the parenting workshop “The Art & Science of Parenting in the Internet Age” on 29 May 2015. Parents will learn more practical tips to handle online activities during the June holidays and gain further understanding on how different games & apps can affect your child. Originally written for Innova Primary School
    April 7, 2020

    When Should I Give My Child A Mobile Phone? 3 Steps to Managing Digital Devices for Parents

    When will your kids get their own smartphones and iPads? At which age do you think children can manage their usage of these devices?
    (*Real story, names changed)
    Jayden*, seven years-old, is glued to his iPad, watching Stampy videos on YouTube (live gaming commentaries on Minecraft). He seems oblivious to what is happening around him. Three other kids nearby are similarly glued to their devices as their parents interact.
    In a corner of the house, a lone toddler plays with toy cars with his caregiver.
    Smartphones and devices usually dominate the attention of children once they lay their hands on it. When smartphones and devices become the children's personal property and “right”, they usually spend a lot more time and also prefer digital entertainment to other non-digital forms of play.
    In this same story, Ben*, aged six, enters the same house with his parents. He immediately jumps beside Jayden and shares the screen. For ten minutes he appears to be just like all the other children, irresistibly drawn to the YouTube videos. However after some time, at the prompting of his parents, Ben moves off to play with the toddler and the cars and remains engaged for the next two hours without digital entertainment.
    1. Why is Ben able to move away from the devices even though his friends are totally absorbed?
    2. Why is he able to play with other non-digital options?
    3. What are Ben's parents doing differently with him?

    3 Steps to Managing Digital Devices in Your Child’s Life: Glimpses from A Real Family

    (1) Maximise younger years to develop your child in non-digital activities

    child playing lego It is much easier to teach and interest your kids in reading, physical activities, Lego®, board games and puzzles, while they are young, and before they are exposed to digital entertainment. Credit to the design of digital entertainment, they usually displace many other activities once they are introduced. Ben's parents invest significant time to expose him to outdoor activities. He also has a fair array of toy cars and building blocks to engage him. Furthermore, he helps his older siblings with their pet terrapins and his father’s aquarium. In contrast, he only gets to play video games at non-regular intervals, averaging about 15 minutes every 2 days. As such, he does not usually ask for digital entertainment as a default option, and is able to create his own play with other toys.

    (2) Decide early when your child should get a smartphone

    Most parents are forced to adjust their plans because of peer pressure on their children. But parents who plan ahead are less likely to give in compared to those who do not. Ben's parents have decided that a smartphone will only be necessary for him when he reaches secondary school. As such they put extra effort into alternative activities and make plans to help him resist peer pressure. Ben's older sisters aged 11 and 13 both follow this “plan” and have successfully navigated their primary school years without falling prey to distractions. In contrast, they have developed well in sports, arts and craft, and are also able to understand why they do not have mobile phones.

    (3) Establish screen-free zones in your home

    Ben's parents establish screen-free zones in their home. In fact, all mobile devices are restricted to a charging “dock” at the coffee table. No one brings the mobile device into the bedroom, study room or dinner table. Because digital activity at home is always restricted to certain fixed locations, it becomes less integrated with other home activities and interaction. The absence of digital “triggers” such as notifications reduce the perpetual distractions that come from a mobile device. This sharing comes from a real scenario of family and friends, with names have changed to protect privacy. All three children in Ben's family seem to be able to regulate their use of mobile devices very well. Even though they interact daily with peers who behave differently, it is clear that the parents’ influence sets them apart from the rest. What do you do with your children? In our previous parenting workshops, we covered many more practical ideas for parents to manage the use of devices and cyber wellness for their children. Register your interest here to be informed of our next parents’ workshop when we launch the next dates!
    April 6, 2020

    Cyberwellness for Families: Managing Distractions from Social Media


    youtube application Children love the endless choices they have on the platform. From games & music videos to Running Man, there are so much to look forward to. And you do not have to search very hard! Recommendations, special channels, email alerts are pushed to every user. We are entertained whenever, wherever and whatever! “There is never a boring moment nor an end to the show!”


    Who can resist the excitement of chatting with friends & classmates, sharing jokes and videos, all through the FREE app? Group chats help children stay in touch. Every WhatsApp alert sends a shot of excitement and makes us wonder “who?” & “what?” “I just have to reach out to check my phone!”


    “How many people liked my photo?” “Who is this new follower on my account?” “Don’t I look nice in my new selfie?” “Am I popular?” Girls are especially attracted to social media! But it is so distracting! And takes so much time! Parents need to understand that social media works by getting children (and adults) to click as much as possible.

    Important Information The more users click, the more information YouTube, WhatsApp & Instagram collect, the more these companies are able to sell advertisements & make use of the personal data.

    They will never stop prompting, alerting, attracting & persuading you to use the apps! "I would like my child to be able to enjoy social networking. How can they use it without it taking over their lives?

    (1) Manage the cravings - Shut off the Internet

    Regularly shut off the Internet to remove stimulation for a period of time. Doing this helps us to reduce the urge to reach out and connect. “Shutdown time helps shift the control back to me!”

    (2) Enforce social media blackouts during schoolwork & mealtimes

    It is most fruitful to focus totally on schoolwork without switching your attention every other minute. Family time is also most useful when we pay attention to understand and catch up with one another. “The important people are in front of you, not somewhere out in cyberspace!”

    (3) Manage the alerts

    Decide which sources are most important. Remove alerts for the rest. On WhatsApp, mute all conversations except for the really important ones Limit your YouTube channel subscriptions. Remember there is no end to them.

    (4) Build an awesome & exciting real life!

    When there is nothing more exciting, challenging and fulfilling life, alerts will fill your life! Consider spending your time through:
    • Great CCAs keep us working on longer term goals and benefits
    • Frequent family activities keep us busy with one another instead of distractions
    Originally written for Innova Primary School.
    March 5, 2020

    ST Feature: Schools to devote more time to cyber wellness education

    We are in the news! Coincidentally as education announcements were made in Parliament, our team of trainers were out and about conducting our ‘Social Media: Online Reputation’ module in two different schools. Here is what the teachers and students had to say: “Very current examples compared to other cyber wellness packages which are quite dated and do not involve social media trends that the students are familiar with.” – Teacher, Ang Mo Kio Secondary School “I like the way she explains the different kinds of post that people post and also the effect of posting our pictures online.” – Student, Ang Mo Kio Secondary School “The most impactful thing I learnt was that are pictures and videos that can be potentially sensitive and harmful to one's self and the society.” – Student, Bartley Secondary School The latest announcements from Parliament directly align with the #medialiteracy work that we believe in and continue to do. Over the last decade, Kingmaker (and now Media Literacy School) has been partnering with schools to customise developmental #cyberwellness framework that engage and value-add. We look forward to more good work to come! Read more online at The Straits Times.