Parents hear grave stories about grave cyberspace crime, losing kids to cyber addiction (especially on social media sites), kids secretly meeting online strangers often. While you may hope that these stories are mere urban legends—it isn’t too far fetched. There was even a story of a mother duped into showing her daughter off nude on Skype to an a pedophile. Better safe than sorry, right—even if you’re a swamped-beyond-busy parent, take some time to view the quick tips below.
Acting Director of the Media Development Authority’s (MDA) Outreach, Ms Chetra Sinnathamby, gave theAsianparent invaluable tips to help parents to familiarise themselves with this world that their child will be entering. Knowing the Internet will also help parents to understand the vast potential of the medium. These 10 simple tips go some way in helping parents manage children’s time of the Internet:
1. Establish house rules on the amount of time or type of online activities, which your child can engage in. For example, you may want to limit your child’s access to the Internet only after school homework has been completed. In addition, you may want to limit online activities to 2 hours per day.
2. Explain the need for these rules and the consequences of violating them so that children will learn to respect the boundaries.
3. Maintain open communication so that your children understand your concerns and will be encouraged to share problems that they encounter online with you.
4. Adjust privacy settings to keep personal information private, and teach your children not to divulge personal information online.
5. Say “no” to meeting strangers they have met online. Encourage your children to check with you whenever they are in doubt.
6. Create strong passwords to prevent illegal access by online hackers. A good password has at least eight characters that are a mixture of letters, digits and symbols.
7. Use security software to keep cyber risks at bay. You can opt for filter services offered by your ISPs or commercial software by Norton, McAfee or NetNanny.
8. Delete any email and/or attachment from unknown senders to prevent viruses from infecting your computer.
9. Monitor time spent on the computer and set reasonable time limits. Encourage your children to take regular breaks at least once every 30 minutes while using the computer. Your children should participate in other activities so that they realize that there are other things to do apart from surfing the Internet and social media sites.
10. Practice proper netiquette. Help your children to observe proper social etiquettes the cyberspace in the same manner that you would in the real world. Teach them to be respectful of others, refrain from using profanities, and type messages in lower cases to avoid “shouting” online.
MDA Cyber wellness programmes for parents
MDA works with the industry and partners to leverage on existing programmes as well as roll out new programmes to share tips and tools for parents, so that they can better protect children from the dangers in cyberspace and steer them towards the safer, and more responsible use of the Internet and other media platforms.
Cyber wellness resource portal
In February last year, MDA set up a cyber wellness resource portal (https://www.cyberwellness.org.sg) to provide a comprehensive knowledge bank for parents to draw on. To supplement the online content, the portal also incorporates a discussion forum for experts and parents, like you, to share and exchange practical cyber wellness-related tips with each other.
The MDA parental handbook
To help parents choose age-appropriate content, we have a handy parental handbook that contains useful information on a breadth of media consumption topics, including an explanation of MDA’s ratings system and tips. The handbook dishes out information and tips that cover various media platforms, from the Internet, television, video games, arts to publications. An e-version of the handbook is now available on the MDA’s website (https://www.mda.gov.sg/Public/Parents/Documents/Handbook.pdf).
Cyber Wellness Roving Bus
MDA introduced a Cyber Wellness Roving Bus to help drive home the importance of responsible Internet use. The bus is fitted with interactive kiosks containing fun and easy-to-play quizzes and games to empower children to protect themselves online and deal with issues such as cyber bullying and gaming addiction wisely. The bus has visited over 80 primary schools to date. Instead of completing its run last year as initially planned, the bus campaign has been extended to July 2012 due to overwhelming demand by schools.
MDA organised a Digital Diary competition in February 2011 to encourage students to share both their positive and negative experiences with the Internet so their peers can learn from their first-hand experiences. The digital diaries that were submitted encapsulated a wide range of topics including accounts of victims of cyber-bullying and cyber scams. The contest, which ended on June 3, 2011, garnered a total of 575 entries from 21 schools. The best entries were rewarded with prizes such as tablet computers and hampers.
Inter-school video challenge
MDA supported an inter-school video challenge that was organized by Digital Brew Pte Ltd to produce a series of six interactive videos on real case studies for use as teaching resources. At the same time, based on their understanding of cyber wellness principles, students were encouraged to create video responses to several cyber wellness scenarios. The challenge attracted 20,648 students and 132 entries from both primary and secondary schools. Most of the teachers who participated appreciated having more teaching resources and felt that the video challenge was a refreshing approach to engage students to think about various cyber wellness topics.
MDA also worked with partners such as the National Crime Prevention Council to promote “Cyberonia” which is an interactive and engaging online game that guides students on some key concerns of gaming addiction, cyber bullying, cyber viruses as well as the need for the creation of strong passwords to keep online account secure. Teachers and students can come together to build a cyber wellness town on this online platform.
Concerned parents and teachers can speak to trained counselors or social workers on cyber wellness-related issues by dialing 1800-337-2252 or 6787 1125. Visit MDA’s site www.mda.gov.sg.
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