Singtel introduces cyber wellness toolkit for special needs students
Singapore, 12 October 2016 – Singtel today introduced a customised programme for special needs students to help them become more digitally savvy. The Singtel Cyber Wellness Toolkit aims to educate special needs students on the importance of developing safe online habits and identifying imminent dangers of the internet world.
Latest statistics show that almost 8 in 10 children have used the Internet, with smartphones and tablets being the top two devices often used to access the Internet. Although cyber wellness concerns are applicable to both children and youths, the threats facing special needs students are higher due to their intellectual challenges. These students typically have easy access to technology at home, with minimal or no supervision. Hence, they are easily susceptible to media influences and undesirable behaviours without being aware of the dangers.
Currently, there is no official curriculum for cyber wellness in special education (SPED) schools. Having worked with SPED schools through the Singtel Touching Lives Fund over the last 15 years, Singtel identified this as a gap through its engagement with SPED principals and teachers, and teamed up with TOUCH Cyber Wellness, a service of TOUCH Community Services, and its beneficiary schools to come up with lesson plans that are suitable for special needs students. This toolkit was developed after many rounds of teacher focus groups, classroom observations and teaching material iterations on what will work best for the teachers and students.
Singtel Vice President of Group Corporate Social Responsibility, Mr Andrew Buay, said: “Technology helps to connect people but it also exposes them to online risks such as inappropriate content, device and gaming addiction and cyber bullying. This problem is magnified with special needs students due to their intellectual challenges, which is why we decided to raise their awareness in this area.”
He added: “The Cyber Wellness Tool Kit will arm SPED school teachers with a valuable resource to conduct cyber wellness sessions in an educational and fun manner. To better communicate with students, we focused on a few key topics, simplified the issues and made the lessons more engaging. We hope the toolkit will help special needs students navigate the cyber world with greater confidence, as they will learn how to protect themselves from the known dangers and pitfalls.”
Mr Victor Tay, President of Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN), welcomed the toolkit. “As an integrated school for special needs from primary to vocational senior school, APSN leverages technologies to overcome learning disability through mobility learning, gamification, robotics and augmented reality. This new opportunity however presented new risks to unwary students who are vulnerable to the ungoverned side of cyberworld. It is a timely move to launch the Singtel Cyber Wellness Toolkit.”
Executive Director of TOUCH Community Services, Mr James Tan, said: “Cyber wellness concerns are very real in today’s highly-connected digital environment, and the special needs community is not exempt from its dangers. When designing the content for the toolkit, we focused not only on cyber-related issues but on the importance of inculcating values, practical skills, knowledge and the impartation of social emotional competencies. This person-centric pedagogy facilitates the learning of values by SPED students while teachers can support by role modeling positive behaviour and affirming good online attitudes and behaviour.”
The Singtel Cyber Wellness Toolkit comprises a thumbdrive with resource materials for teachers, and three levels of workbooks that are targeted for students across three age groups, ranging from seven to 18 years. The toolkit covers four main themes on cyber relationships, online information, online harassment and bullying, as well as time management online. Singtel produces these toolkits for free to its beneficiary schools, and will also be making it available to other SPED schools in Singapore.
About Singtel’s Corporate Social Responsibility
Singtel aims to create sustainable and long-term growth for its business, while leading and shaping positive changes for its marketplace and customers, the communities it operates in, its people and the environment. Singtel’s community focus is on the well-being of people, enabling their inclusion into society and helping them realise their potential through its core competence in digital and infocomm technologies. It also actively educates customers and promotes responsible digital citizenship, especially among our vulnerable children and youth.
The Group believes that it can make a difference to disadvantaged communities, especially the vulnerable children and youth, through corporate and workplace giving, staff volunteering and leveraging its skills and ICT innovations.
For more information, visit http://info.singtel.com/about-us/sustainability
About Singtel Touching Lives Fund
The Singtel Touching Lives Fund is Singtel’s annual corporate philanthropy programme to help the less privileged children and young people in Singapore. It was launched in 2002 to consolidate the Group’s community support activities. The Fund has since raised over S$33 million for more than 20 charities under the auspices of the National Council of Social Service.
Beneficiaries of Singtel Touching Lives Fund 2016
APSN Chaoyang School
The School provides special education for children with mild intellectual disability and autism, aged 7-12 years. The aim of the school programme is to provide education and training to enable the children to have the necessary skills, attitude and personality to lead normal, independent lives in adulthood.
APSN Tanglin School
The APSN Tanglin School provides special education for children with mild intellectual disability, aged 13-16 years. The special education programme aims to enable children to have the necessary skills, attitude and personality to lead normal and independent lives in adulthood.
Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (CPAS) School
The CPAS School serves students aged 7-18 years, diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Due to their condition, students often require specialised and intensive rehabilitation through therapy intervention. CPAS School provides individual or group therapy sessions with speech therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
Eden School provides education and training to help children with moderate to severe autism aged 6 to 18 years old to acquire the necessary skills, attitude and personality to lead normal independent lives in adulthood.
MINDS Lee Kong Chian Gardens School
The MINDS Lee Kong Chian Gardens School provides a basic foundation in independence and employment skills to serve children aged 5 to 18 years with intellectual disabilities. It aims to develop each child to his or her fullest potential with the long-term objective of enhancing the child's prospects of integrating into mainstream society.
About TOUCH Cyber Wellness
TOUCH Cyber Wellness (TCW), a service of TOUCH Community Services, is a trailblazer in the field of cyber wellness education and counselling programmes. Since 2001, TCW has worked to promote cyber wellness, healthy gaming and online safety, reaching out to 360 schools and more than 1.6 million youths, parents, educators and counsellors. TCW is also the key agency providing counselling on cyber wellness issues.
At its PlanetCRUSH (Cyberspace Risks and where U Seek Help) Cyber Wellness Centres at Hougang and Kallang, TCW provides a healthy gaming environment, engaging workshops and access to counsellors. Through TCW’s education programmes and research-validated intervention model, it works closely with youths, educators and parents to cultivate respect, a balanced lifestyle and responsible use of digital technologies to effect a positive and healthy cyber culture at home, in school and community. TCW’s materials are developed in-house through the TCW’s R&D team and in partnership with local and overseas researchers.
 MDA Zero-to-Fourteen Consumer Experience Study 2015, Media Development Authority