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August 3, 2021

ST Feature: Is social media good or bad for mental health?

Our ex-Intern Tan Yeo Shi Lee was featured in The Straits Times, and we are so proud of him! In this article, Yeo Shi shares his thoughts on the impact of Social Media on mental well-being, and how “Social Media has made him more conscious about how he represents himself online”. With more than 200,000 followers on TikTok today, he talked about how he manages his online reputation, as well as coping with pressures such as cyber bullying. Just like Yeo Shi, many youths and young adults are facing similar challenges today. The excessive usage of digital devices and the rise of many Social Media platforms and trends have caused an increase in many social issues from reports of a greater fear of missing out (FOMO), to unhealthy social comparison leading to negative self-esteem and poorer self-image. Meanwhile, we should not discount the benefits of social networking and connection on these platforms. This is especially crucial during this time of pandemic when many physical interactions between friends and classmates are affected. As the article rightly highlighted, “while it (the use of Social Media) can lead to issues like depression, it may also be a source of support and information”. As such, youths and young adults, today need to learn to manage and harness this new social dynamic that happens online adaptively. In our newly updated “Social Media: Healthy Use and Mental Health” module, we aim to equip youths and young adults with handles to manage their usage of digital devices, particularly in the realm of Social Media. Through self-evaluation and having the right mindset, they will gain awareness and learn practical ideas to safeguard their mental well-being. [caption id="attachment_17236" align="alignnone" width="636"] Social Media Modules [Mental Health, Online Privacy, User Responsibility & Online Reputation][/caption]Enquire with us for our programme info! Read more online at The Straits Times.
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  • August 24, 2020

    Evaluating Online News: Quiz

    Evaluating Online News is a highly-requested for cyber wellness programme topic across schools. Especially with COVID-19 this year, there have been numerous examples of misinformation fuelling panic in various parts of the world. It is critical and paramount to develop media literacy skills from young, and we encourage our students to share their learning with parents and family members - because really, the adults need media literacy skills too! Here's a quiz we've designed recently as a customisation for a school's cyber wellness post-programme follow-up learning. See if you can answer the following questions!

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    June 16, 2020

    Engaging Livestream Programmes for Your School

    Dear educators and partners, in this time of social distancing and digital education, we work hand-in-hand with schools to engage your students via livestream!
    • Lead trainers go down to your school and set up in a room, or from an offsite location
    • Classes receive a URL and tune in to watch an engaging, quality livestream session
    • Livestreams include CCE sessions, assembly talks, cohort programmes  group workshops and other customisations
    What’s Needed: Internet Connection, Laptop + Projector/ Speakers in classroom Livestream Platforms: Zoom (preferred), Google Meet, YouTube Live Available Resources: Step-by-Step Setup Guide for easy classroom setup, Teachers’ Follow-Up Curriculum (Activities & Discussions), Online Breakout Rooms for Group Discussion As done in Hwa Chong Institution, Dunman High School, Beatty Secondary, Bowen Secondary, Pei Chun Public School and more! [iframe src=""] [iframe src=""] [iframe src=""] [iframe src=""] Leave us an enquiry, we'll be happy to get in touch!
    April 13, 2020

    FREE Learning Resource: Managing Screen Time and Maximising Productivity

    Students across Singapore schools and in many countries are online for home-based learning during this time. (Many adults are working from home on their computers during this time too!) This free resource is one of Media Literacy School's most popular modules, “Managing Screen Time & Maximising Productivity”. With input from student advocates across Singapore, we've curated videos, research, games, best practices and tips for screen time management and maximising productivity. Download Learning Resource HERE [iframe src=""] Media Literacy School (MLS) is dedicated to cyber wellness and media literacy development in the world. Over the last 9 years, we have impacted more than half a million students, educators, parents and professionals in Singapore, China, Vietnam and USA. We design high quality, relevant and effective solutions to address the most pressing challenges with media in the digital age. Like us on Facebook to follow for more updates! Read even more here: Cyber Wellness Parenting Tips Media Literacy School
    April 8, 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: TV and videos
    • - Examples of interactive screen time: Multi-player games, educational applications that require user response, Google Maps
    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:

    • - Using digital devices to take photos and make videos (instead of merely watching them)
    • - Exploring a trip destination with Google Earth
    While interactive screen time usually teaches better than passive screen time, it is also important to scrutinise the content:

    (2) Interact with Your Child Over Screen Time

    Besides choosing apps and programmes that are interactive, parents can and should also mediate in all screen time by watching and playing with their children. It will be even better if you follow up with questions to stimulate your children’s thinking. Eleven year-old Elizabeth* used to interact regularly with friends over online chats and Google+. One of her favourite sites showed a post that gave users a “sexy name” based on their month of birth. Her father (who would interact with her over Google+) talked to her about how “sexy names” promote a demeaning image and attract the wrong kind of friends. Elizabeth responded by blocking similar sites out of her own will (2 years later, Elizabeth also distanced 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. 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. (*Real names have been changed) 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. Look out for our upcoming parenting workshop, to learn more practical tips to handle online activities when your children are at home, and gain further understanding on how different games and apps can affect your child. Register your interest here to be informed of our next parents’ workshop! Read even more here:
    April 8, 2020

    Is My Child Addicted Online? How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?

    While the quality of screen time is an important factor for parents to consider, the amount of screen time is also noteworthy because it usually links with Internet Addiction, Exposure to Harmful Content and Cyber Aggression. Excessive time spent on screens also subtracts from time spent on other real life development such as physical activities and face-to-face social interaction. If excessive screen time escalates and develops into a gradual loss of interest in non-screen pursuits in teenage years, it can prove to be much harder to reverse. How much screen time is too much? One good ‘test’ for balance is whether the child struggles when they are asked to stay away from computer games or any particular activity for a period of time:
    1. Do they become restless or irritable?
    2. Do they think about that activity even when not doing it?
    3. Do they neglect basic responsibilities in life such as eating and bathing?
    4. Does their schoolwork suffer because of the time spent on these activities?
    If some of these symptoms apply for mobile devices, online activities and video games, parents should consider helping the child to diversify early by pursuing other interests. Replacing 4 to 6 hours of daily digital entertainment may look daunting, however it is possible and always worthwhile. Children Media Usage Cyber Wellness and Media Literacy Among today’s primary school children, many of them started playing games and watching videos from pre-school days. Data from EU Kids Online shows that about 30% children own a game console before they enter primary school. Similarly close to 10% have their own mobile phone. Screen Time for Primary School Children Cyber Wellness Profiling Media Literacy Our research in Singapore on a sample of 445 children shows an average of about 30 to 45hrs per week for upper primary students. This works out to between 4 to 6hrs daily. This study also found a strongly correlation between screen time and increased a) Internet addiction, b) violent video game exposure, c) access to pornography and d) online aggression. It is important to help children get off to a good start in life by balancing development in both real life and in the digital world.
    • Start with planning ahead for the upcoming weekend
    • Plan a full day of outdoor fun and excursions without mobile devices
    • Sign up for a music, craft or sports activity according to your child’s talent
    • Go for a round island MRT ride to explore all the different corners of Singapore
    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! Read even more here:
    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

    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. Cyber Wellness Parenting Tips Create Real-Life Play

    (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. Cyber Wellness Parenting Tips Giving My Child a Mobile Device at the Right Age

    (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. Cyber Wellness Parenting Tips Screen Free Zone Managing Distractions 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! Read even more here:
    April 6, 2020

    Cyberwellness for Families: Managing Distractions from Social Media

    YouTube: Children, youth (and adults!) love the endless choices we have on this platform. From games and music videos to Korean reality shows, there is 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!” WhatsApp: Who can resist the excitement of chatting with friends & classmates, sharing jokes and videos, all through the FREE app? Group chats help us stay in touch. Every WhatsApp alert sends a shot of excitement and makes us wonder “who?” and “what?”. Instagram: “How many people like my photo?” “Who is the new follower on my account?” “How does this photo look?” “Am I popular?” From our research across Singapore schools, data show that girls are especially engaged by social media. But it is so distracting! And takes so much time! Parents need to understand that social media works by getting users - children, youths and adults - to click as much as possible. Social Media Overuse Media Literacy Singapore The more users click, the more information YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram collect, the more these companies are able to sell advertisements and make use of the personal data. They will never stop prompting, alerting, attracting and 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 and 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!” Media Literacy Singapore Screen Time Usage

    (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 Real Life!

    When there is nothing more exciting, challenging and fulfilling life, alerts will fill your life.
    • - Great CCAs keep us working on longer term goals and benefits
    • - Frequent family activities keep us busy with one another instead of distractions
    Media Literacy Singapore Reduce Screen Time Usage In our previous family 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! Read even more here:
    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: User Responsibility & 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 media literacy 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 cyber wellness framework that engage and value-add. We look forward to more good work to come! Inquire with us for our programmes info! Read more online at The Straits Times.