SINGAPORE - Cyber wellness lessons for secondary students under a new curriculum will weave in real-life scenarios to help them recognise and respond to inappropriate and hurtful content, said Minister of State for Education Sun Xueling.
During a visit to Compassvale Secondary School to observe one such class on Tuesday (Jan 18), Ms Sun noted that students these days face a variety of cyber threats and risks such as cyber bullying, gaming addiction, fake news and scams.
She told the media: "Through our lessons, our teachers make use of real-life examples, make use of videos and screenshots to show our students that this may be some of the material that they come across."
Ms Sun added that it is important for students to process their emotions, and be aware that a peer support culture is available in schools whereby they can talk through these situations.
They can also talk to a trusted adult if they need further help such as counselling, or discuss with their parents.
Since the start of 2022, upper secondary students islandwide have been taught a new character and citizenship education (CCE) curriculum tackling cyber wellness issues.
Announced in Parliament in 2020, the new curriculum will allocate about 50 per cent more time discussing cyber wellness issues with students.
Then Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said the refreshed CCE curriculum came about as a result of a review that started in 2016.
The curriculum was first rolled out to lower secondary students in 2021 before it was expanded to upper secondary students this year.
During Tuesday's CCE class, Secondary 4 students were asked to choose how they would react to a post on a social media influencer in Singapore.
Senior teacher Wan Fazithahariani, who teaches English and conducted the class, said that compared with five years ago, students now face a lot more pressures online, so the emphasis on cyber wellness together with mental health will help them cope with these challenges.
The 49-year-old noted that some students might be unsure of how to deal with hurtful comments and might be pressured to not do the right thing because of such comments, so the lessons will help give them strategies to manage their mental well-being.
Among those attending the CCE class was Sec 4 student Nagarajan Gautham Karthik, who was surprised to discover that even when one chooses to make a neutral comment instead of one that incited hate, negative reactions could still arise.
While Nagarajan does not have a social media account, he noted that it was common to see negative comments on Twitter pages that he follows.
He said: "My biggest takeaway was how to deal with negative comments online. If my friends and I ever come across them, I would try to give a rational response."