Cyber Wellness – Connecting with Gen iY

On the 22nd of September, Media Ministry of Cru Singapore organized a talk on cyber wellness together with Fei Yue Community Services. The talk was called “Connecting with Gen iY”, an experiential program that seeks to allow families to have positive bonding moments through discussions and games and learning values to navigate Cyberspace together.

The two trainers facilitated discussions and conducted games with 12 families over a span of four hours. Through these interactive activities, the families learnt more about how to develop values and methods to deal with the perils of cyber space. Many present were inspired by the enthusiasm of the parents in their efforts to engage their children.

Below are some highlights of feedback received:

I enjoyed the program because of the:
– Sharing of challenges and exchange of views
– Practical points and questionnaires to think and act on
– real life experiences and different perspectives brought out through the discussion from parents and yo

This program has helped me in the following manner:
– To plan family media
– Taught me resolution techniques in discussion & communication
– Understand from youth’s perspective what is important to them 
– Know what to do when cyber bullied;  what to and what not to post on the Internet; how to stay safe while using social media.
– Platform to bond with my family through tech conversation on cyber issues.

If you have missed the workshop, and is seeking to raise safe and smart teens who frequently indulge in the cyber world this digital age, below are 4 hot tips for your consideration:  

Cyber-bullying
There are a few characteristics of cyber-bullying that make it so dangerous. Firstly, in its permanence: insults, comments or images can be preserved online, and the victim may read and view them repeatedly, reliving the harm that was originally inflicted upon them. Secondly, the size of the audience that can view the damaging content increases the humiliation of the victim. Lastly, the speed at which harmful messages can be disseminated to large audiences amplifies the traumatic effect.
Cyber-bullying is a multifaceted issue that defies a simple, one-size-fits all solution. The fact is that most internet and social media activity take place outside the watchful eyes of parents. That’s why it’s so important to adopt a multi-pronged strategy. Parents can improve their child’s safety by using next-generation web filtering and reporting tools and educating them on appropriate online behaviour.

Staying Safe on Social Media
Social media can be a great source of information, a platform for online communities to gather, and a tool to stay connected with your loved ones. However due to the amount of personal information that we store on these sites, we must aware and responsible in what we choose to share when using these platforms. By taking the necessary steps, you can minimize the risk of your information being leaked out to unintended parties.
Some of these steps include:
a. Only accept friend requests from people you know in real life
b. Update your privacy settings to allow only your known friends or family members to view your posts
c. Avoid oversharing and posting sensitive information online
d. Turn off geo-tagging, only share your location with relevant parties
e. Lastly, consider creating an alternate account if you need to use social media for professional purposes

Learn to Relate through Resolution
One of the biggest challenges of any parent is relating to their children during their formative years. Parents do not want to be overbearing, but at the same time they want to provide their children with the proper guidance when they venture out into the world. The key to any healthy relationship is building trust through communication; it is very important that a child sees a parent as someone to confide in especially on sensitive matters.

With regards to their children’s internet usage, there are steps parents can take to strike a healthy balance between regulation and exploration.
1. One of which is to have an open discussion within the family when implementing rules and boundaries, parents should explain why these measures are necessary and be open to hearing their child’s feedback.
2. Exercise patience and keep the discussion conversational, children tend to become withdrawn if they feel they are being unnecessarily disciplined or restricted.
3. Parents must also be receptive to change and adaptable in their parenting style. While rules are important for a child’s safety, the nature of the open web means that there is only so much one can do restrict their child’s access. The more a child feels restricted, the more he/she will want to rebel.
4. Lastly, avoid immediately reprimanding your child when he/she breaks a rule, instead engage them in a discussion and learn more about their thought process. This will foster greater trust between parent and child, as he/she will be more receptive to an empathetic rather than a hostile response.

Cyber Wellness requires a Holistic approach
Ensuring your own and your family’s safety in cyber space requires more than implementing preventive measures. Cultivating cyber wellness requires a holistic approach, one that centres around open communication and is focused on nurturing and educating rather than reactionary discipline. It is not enough to set up firewalls, it is not enough to update your social media settings, and it is not enough to simply restrict your child’s internet usage.
It is about understanding the nature of the internet, that it is neither overwhelming good nor inherently evil; it is how we use it that matters and how much control we allow it to exert over our lives. It is about being cyber empowered, not cyber enslaved. Let us keep these principles in mind as we seek to cultivate this mentality in ourselves and our families, so that we can provide a safe environment for growth but also a culture of cyber wellness.