Voices of Youth: Help young people step away from their devices

When the Covid-19 pandemic began and schools had to adopt home-based learning, teenagers in Singapore found themselves spending eight or more hours a day on their digital devices. For some, this worsened their reliance on these devices.

Smartphones let people engage in online activities such as interacting on social media, playing games and surfing the Web.

However, these activities may also lead to cyber bullying and the emergence of toxic communities that may diminish one's self-esteem.

This could then lead to major issues such as depression and feelings of inadequacy among young people. Teenagers may end up reliant on the affirmation they get in the form of "likes" from friends and strangers online.

One way to help young people is to place more emphasis on the cyber wellness component of character and citizenship education, teaching students how to tackle risks such as social media addiction and cyber bullying.

At home, parents and children can agree on screen time limits for certain apps, and parents can talk to their children about addiction and how it can harm them. Children can try to be more physically active and spend more time with their family members.

The authorities could also help by increasing awareness among young people of available nature trails, and perhaps even opening more, so that teenagers who are cooped up at home can go out for walks to get off their phones, as well as bond with family members.

Kieran Tan Jieren, 15

Secondary 3 student

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