Digital safety and well-being: 5 ways to navigate through the online world

Deepika Sodhi
Mar 11, 2022
Digital learning

As a parent, you've probably spoken to your children about the danger of talking to strangers and playing alone outside. This would have helped them understand the need for safety from unknown people. Ideally, every parent wants to raise safety-conscious children who don't put themselves unnecessarily in harm's way. 

Similarly, in today's digital world, where unguarded information is easily available on the internet, you do not want your child to flounder. Therefore, it is imperative for parents to emphasise on digital safety to ensure the well-being of their children, even when they are as young as 6 or 7 years old. Also, they must understand the responsibilities of digital citizenship as they grow older. The things they say and post online can have far-reaching consequences.

Moreover, with 21st-century education thriving on digital savviness, along with parents, schools must focus on digital safety for students and nurture them into responsible digital citizens who can safely navigate the online world. 

What is Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship simply means responsible use of technology by anyone who’s using a digital device. It could be the use of the internet or different apps - from buying books, clothes, food to banking or taking online classes - that have become a way of life.

As per a World Economic Forum report, children make up a significant part of internet users wherein 1 out of 3 is under 18 years old, which equals to almost 33% of children worldwide. Needs, abilities and preferences: these are some of the factors which affect the ways children engage with the internet. 

And, though digitally-advanced 21st century students may try to judge the reliability of different sources, it can be difficult for them to avoid the risks at times. As per another survey, 70% of children have experienced at least one cyber threat. 

Simple ways to promote digital safety and well-being for students

Digital safety has many names. Some call it internet safety. Others refer to it as being cyber-safe. The term describes the way in which we, as a digital society, protect ourselves and others, as we communicate via digital devices. 

Whether you're logging onto your personal computer, using your mobile phone, or even accessing Google Classroom on the iPad, it's important to realise you're accessing a device that connects you to people you may not know. 

Here are five simple tips for students on digital safety that should be reinforced regularly:

1. Avoid accepting friend requests from strangers.

2. Create strong passwords that do not give away obvious personal information, and do not share them with others.

3. Check with an adult before you download any link a website or a gaming platform asks you to.

4. Think before posting personal information on the internet as it puts you at risk of identity theft, stalking or cyberbullying.

5. If someone bullies you or your friends online, make sure you report the person to your parents or teachers.

Digital safety leads to digital well-being, which means you're staying mentally healthy while online. Students who practice digital well-being are self-aware of how they interact with others online. 

They're kind and respectful of other people's opinions and feelings, and they don't engage in behaviour they wouldn't use in person. As a result, they're able to pick and choose what affects them as they're navigating through multiple websites. They learn to make healthy choices that protect both their minds and bodies. And they help their peers do the same. 

Here are some key tips that can aid digital wellness:

1. Focus on the work you need to do online; do not allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the wealth of information available. 

2. Maintain a balance between online and offline activities.

3. Disconnect when required to avoid stressing your mind and eyes.

4. Be kind to others, even online.

5. Take help. Reach out to your parents and teachers in case you are affected by an online experience.

At GIIS, we conduct monthly sessions on digital safety and wellness for our students 

How GIIS prepares students to interact successfully online

The more time your child spends online, the more chance they have to witness instances of bullying, grooming, or the spread of misinformation. How they choose to react to and deal with this reality is the foundation on which digital wellness for students is built upon. Of course, it's not always easy to make good, informed decisions, especially for students who are still in primary school

At GIIS, we address these needs in various ways, including monthly sessions by our information and communication teachers, or ICTs. During these sessions, teachers talk with students on the importance of digital well-being and how to attain it. 

We appoint well-being captains whose job it is to support our teachers by reporting instances of unwelcome behaviour. In addition, we have sessions on digital wellness conducted by our counsellors, talks on cyber security and videos played by teachers in the classrooms to create awareness. The key messages are also conveyed through posters in various display areas in the school.

GIIS has a helpline number for students to address any crisis, including mental wellbeing. (For GIIS Singapore, the healthline number is +65 9723 4938.)

Lastly, we balance our online school activities with other modalities, including yoga, meditation, enrichment classes and access to nature.

Also read: How to foster student wellbeing? Here’s what we do at GIIS

We teach students to safeguard their digital well-being

At GIIS, we emphasise kindness at every grade level and throughout every activity, and that includes our online interactions. In today's increasingly global community, skills in technology are absolute necessities. They bring us together across geographic boundaries and cultures. 

And things that were once considered impossible now happen every day. And through it all runs a common link — the internet. But to use this powerful tool successfully, our students must put safety first. Their physical and mental health can be affected by the things they see and encounter online. And their online behaviour has the power to impact so many more people than it ever has before. For these reasons, GIIS makes digital safety and wellness for students a top priority.

If you wish to know more about GIIS, please do not hesitate to reach out to our friendly admissions counsellors.

Deepika Sodhi

A highly motivated and dedicated educator with nearly 24 years of teaching experience, Ms. Deepika Sodhi is the Academic Supervisor for International Curricula at Global Indian International School (GIIS) SMART Campus, Singapore.

Ms. Sodhi has a rich experience of teaching Physics across curricula such as the IB, Cambridge IGCSE and CBSE. She has served as an Exam Officer for Cambridge Assessment International Education. Currently, she is an IB Assessment Officer, and a member of International Schools Network and International Baccalaureate Educator Network.

In her free time, Ms. Sodhi enjoys writing blogs, creating guiding material for training staff and community service.

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