Secondary 1 student Albert Loh says his grandmother often gets phone calls from people claiming to be the police. Speaking to her in Mandarin, they try to get her to divulge personal information.
After attending a workshop on tackling fake news and online scams yesterday, the 13-year-old from Greendale Secondary School plans to share the tips he learnt with her as well as his family and neighbours.
The Media Literacy Council organised the workshop as part of the annual N.E.mation contest to raise awareness about misleading or false information and online scams. It was held at the Pixel Building in Buona Vista.
At yesterday's workshop, 13 students from five secondary schools learnt how to identify fake news and common online scams, as well as handle cyber bullying.
They received advice such as checking whether a story online has an exaggerated or "clickbait" headline, and if multiple reputable news outlets have reported the same story.
Albert said he learnt of a 2015 incident where a Filipino family supposedly complained about the playing of drums during Thaipusam, which turned out to be untrue. "If we know that's fake news, our community will be stronger and won't be suspicious of one another, and (this can) prevent racial tensions," he said.
N.E.mation is an annual contest in which students can express their ideas on Total Defence by making short animation clips.
Into its 13th year, it is organised by animation company Animagine and Nexus, the Ministry of Defence department responsible for Total Defence and National Education.
Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Psalm Lew, director of community engagement at Nexus, said: "New threats like fake news can cause unrest that weakens the social cohesion of Singaporeans. The Media Literacy Council visit aims to raise participants' awareness and highlight the part every Singaporean has to play."
In a statement yesterday, the Media Literacy Council said it hoped that through the workshop, students understand the motivations behind the creation of disinformation and the consequences of spreading it.
Mr Shem Yao, 37, who conducts workshops with Touch Cyber Wellness, said: "We're here to share with students how important it is to create a positive online culture of participation."
Registration for N.E.mation 2019 started in July. Winners will be announced next February.