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‘Digital’ Parenting in the 21st Century

09 May 2014

ExCEL Fest 2014

MOE ExCEL Fest seminar - “‘Digital’ Parenting in the 21st Century”, was a sharing session for parents jointly organised by Ministry of Education and the Media Development Authority.

Technology has become very much a part of our lives these days. It is a common sight to see children using mobile devices like tablets or mobile phones, and sometimes, they seem more adept at it than adults! As a parent, have you ever encountered dilemmas on how you should educate your child on the use of technology?

MOE ExCEL Fest 2014Let’s find out more from one of our recent MOE ExCEL Fest seminars, “‘Digital’ Parenting in the 21st Century”, which was jointly organised by the Ministry of Education and the Media Development Authority. Facilitated by Dr Cecilia Soong who is a Senior Specialist in Guidance at MOE’s Student Development Curriculum Division, the seminar also had three guest speakers, Mr Nicholas Gabriel Lim (Assistant Director of Children-At-Risk Empowerment Association (CARE)), Ms Lai Lei Khim (Acting Director, Outreach, Media Development Authority and Executive Director, Media Literacy Council) and Madam Rashidah Abdul Rasip, Principal of West View Primary School.

The three speakers shared insightful parenting skills on how parents could communicate better and build positive relationships with their children by understanding the use of technology, and how they could help their children to navigate cyberspace safely. Mr Nicholas Lim, who is also a psychologist, gave a “brain-science” presentation on how various parts of the brain would process information. He also pointed out that it was important for parents to understand how their children perceive different information, and that this would help parents to find the most effective communication strategy to engage their children and inculcate the right values to them.

The second speaker, Ms Lai Lei Khim, spoke about the role of parents and shared research findings from the Media Literacy Council on how children consumed information from the digital world. Ms Lai highlighted that young children up to 12 years old tended to believe what they see online. However, they would consult their parents if they were unsure of the information. For teenagers and youths, they may not be aware of the importance of privacy and may lack an understanding of the consequences of what they say or do online. Ms Lai also helped parents to understand some of the common media sharing sites, social networks and messaging tools which their children might be using, and the types of information that they might come into contact with online. She also reminded parents that the cyber world was similar to the real world and that parents could put some rules in place so that their children could navigate their way online safely.

Lastly, Madam Rashidah shared how West View Primary School educated its students in becoming responsible users of the internet. She felt that it was important to instil core values such as “respect” and “integrity” as well as online etiquette in students. Madam Rashidah also hoped that parents could work closely with schools to educate their children from young with core values. She added, “If we can ground our students in values, we can trust them wherever they are, whether it is face-to-face interactions or in cyberspace”.

A question-and-answer segment was also held to allow the audience to interact with the guest speakers. Parents were keen to know how they could engage their children who were often glued to their gadgets and computer games. One parent shared that her son, currently a Secondary 3 student, was always on his smart phone and computer, and that gaming was his way of relaxation. She asked how she could engage her son while giving him ample time for his computer games. Mr Nicholas Lim opined that some time should be set aside for parents to have a dialogue with their children, and that parents could share their concerns about spending too much on such devices. At the same time, parents would also get to know what their children are thinking and their need for personal activities outside of school work. He observed that youths these days want to be able to have a say and to have a listening ear, and that by getting them to engage, they would feel that their parents were making an effort to understand them better.

For more resources on what you can do as a parent in this digital age to reach out to your child, please visit the Media Literacy Council’s website.