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The Cyber Wellness Framework guides schools in planning for a cyber wellness programme.
The Framework focuses on developing the child’s instinct to protect himself and empower him to take responsibility for his own well-being in cyberspace. Thus, this framework highlights two principles to guide pupils in their actions, describes a 3-step process to explore cyber wellness issues and encourages schools to partner parents in promoting cyber wellness among pupils.
The two principles, "Respect for Self and Others" and "Safe and Responsible Use" when adhered to will anchor pupils' well-being in cyberspace as they will then be able to make careful and well-considered decisions.
Respect for Self and Others
Pupils need to
- Uphold their own dignity when online (e.g. avoid surfing inappropriate sites and participating in illegal online activities)
- Respect others (e.g. avoid using the work of others without permission and publishing undesirable materials that hurt others).
Safe and Responsible Use
Pupils need to
- Have an understanding of the risks of harmful and illegal online behaviours, and learn how to protect themselves as well as to avoid dangers they may encounter online.
- Be able to evaluate the consequences of their decisions/behaviours while online and make responsible choices to protect themselves and the community (e.g. not spending excessive amount of time chatting or playing games online, and reporting victims of cyber bullying to a trusted adult/authority).
Learning Cycle (Process)
The process of Sense, Think and Act serves to highlight the stages that a pupil should undergo to prepare himself/herself to self-manage in cyberspace. The process could serve as a heuristic device to help teachers organise lessons on cyber wellness topics.
Sense - The first step in inculcating these principles is to create cyber awareness among the pupils. Pupils should be able to "sense" the risks of harmful behaviours online and learn how to manage such risks as well as protect themselves from the dangers.
Think - To develop pupils' ability to respond to new encounters in cyberspace, it is important to provide opportunities for pupils to analyse, evaluate and reflect on cyber wellness issues. </ p>
Act - Pupils should eventually translate their understanding into actions that will keep them safe while online.
Pupils should always "be aware", "think" before "acting" while they are online. Therefore, "Sense, Think and Act" is a simple learning cycle for pupils to adopt. Schools should reinforce this process when delivering their cyber wellness programmes.
To ensure more effective inculcation of these principles in pupils, schools should partner parents. For example, schools can support parents in understanding cyber wellness issues and risks, as well as involve parents in reinforcing cyber wellness principles at home.
Tips on Netiquette
Netiquette refers to the rules of Internet courtesy. They are not very different from the normal rules of common courtesy that govern our behaviour in any public domain. However, the mode of communication is different (textual, extended lag-time for response, abbreviations, etc.) hence additional considerations have to be in place. While the rules of courtesy continue to apply, negative behaviours are what we should learn to avoid.
Examples of Negative Behaviour while communicating online can include:
- Shouting (typing text in capital letters)
- Using crude language
- Insulting others
- Flaming (posting hostile messages on the Internet)
- Cyber bullying
- Infringing others' privacy
The effects can be misunderstanding, miscommunication, and the breakdown of relationships. In a worst-case scenario, disregard for the rules of netiquette can result in punishment by authority figures.
Proposed Actions to Maintain Netiquette
Remember the rules of courtesy . Maintain the same standards of behaviour online that one would follow in real life . Avoid doing what would be embarrassing to do if faced with an audience. Give to people the same respect that one would expect from others. Avoid hurting someone's feelings with what is written. Use smileys (emoticons) to show feelings.
Think about what is posted . Is it offensive to others? Will the sender stand by the information being posted? Sharing provocative photos or intimate details online, even in private emails, can cause problems later on. Remember that what is said in a chat room or instant messaging session is live — it can’t be taken back or deleted later. Be responsible for what is posted.
Respect other people's time . Is it appropriate and relevant to recipient(s)? Do not spend too much time trying to get attention if others do not appreciate it. Avoid sending or forwarding information that is not important or relevant to others.
Avoid flaming . Do not scold, insult, or ridicule others. Stay calm when 'flaming' occurs and ignore it or ask the other person to explain himself/herself. It may be a misunderstanding.
Respect other people's privacy . Do not share friends' details with strangers or other friends without permission. Do not share private information about oneself or friends with strangers. Do not read other people's files and emails or spread unfounded rumours.
Know your audience . Remember that tone, punctuation and spelling are dependent on the context for the piece of writing. For example, do not select an informal style when writing a formal request.
Good Practice for On-line Security
- Update and patch the computer's operating system
- Install and update anti-virus and anti-spyware programs
- Use a firewall to protect against hackers and Malware
- Scan all email attachments
- Don't open any email or attachments from anonymous senders
- Don't respond to any email or fake websites that ask for personal information such as bank accounts and password
- Use strong passwords. A strong password should contain at least 8 characters with a mix of letters
- As old scams become well-known, new scam techniques pop up. The best way to avoid scam is to use some common sense; if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Proposed actions to address copyright issues
- Be polite to others online
- Never give out personal information online
- Never tell anyone your passwords, not even your friends
- Never open an email from someone you don't know
- Don't open or read messages from bullies
- Don't send messages when you are angry
- Tell an adult or talk to a friend you trust
- Don't respond to a rude or mean email or text message.
- Stay free of phone, chat or email for a few days.
- Report the bullying to the chat host or web host or internet service provider or mobile phone service provider or local police.
Danger with Cyber Contacts
Cyberpal is a friend met online, known only via the Internet. As anonymity is afforded by the Internet, it is difficult to know the true identity of the cyberpal. Therefore, a cyberpal is really still a stranger.
Advice for Pupils :
- Avoid giving away personal details or sending personal pictures to cyberpal(s)
- Avoid meeting a cyberpal face-to-face without first discussing with parents or guardian and obtaining permission.
- Be suspicious of cyberpal who speaks ill of their parents and friends.
- Say 'NO' firmly if someone is trying to persuade you into meeting up or giving personal information about yourself. Leave the chat room as soon as possible if the person persists.
- Leave the chat room if the conversation makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Cyber sexual Addiction
- Cyber-relational Addiction
- Gaming Addiction
- Net Addiction
Proposed Actions to Prevent Internet Addiction
Total abstinence is neither a reasonable nor effective treatment for internet addiction.
Exercise control over internet usage and reduce time spent online would be a more appropriate approach to cope with internet addiction.
Strategies to prevent internet addiction
- Keep the computer in a place accessible to all - be it at home or in school where monitoring internet usage is easy
- Set a time limit for internet use
- Install filters
- Encourage pupils to engage in other social activities or pastimes
- Participate in internet safety programmes designed by community groups
- Explore ways to surf the Internet more efficiently
Signs and Symptoms of Internet Addiction
-Preoccupation with the online related activities
-Craving for more and more time spent on internet in order to achieve satisfaction
-Thinking frequently about the previous online activities and anticipating the next online session
-Lying to friends and family about computer use
-Spending increasing amount of time and money on the online games or casinos and internet services
-Dropping out of other social groups (clubs or sports) and neglecting friends
Tips to Avoid Contact with Internet Pornography
- Install filtering software
- Ensure web browser is switched to "safe search" mode
- Delete suspicious email immediately, do not open the mail
- Don't click on the hyperlinks from suspicious emails
- Don't click on pop-ups
- Force quit (Alt F4) the browser if pop-ups persist
Adapted from MOE Cyber Wellness Starter Kit (Secondary)