Online game to promote cyber wellness among primary school pupils

PHOTO: Online game to promote cyber wellness among primary school pupils

SINGAPORE - In a bid to fight cyber bullying, the Media Literacy Council, which champions cyber wellness, has launched an educational programme promoting responsible online behaviour to all primary schools.

The cyber wellness programme, named iZ HERO challenge, allows primary school children to learn about cyber bullying through a game, comic strips and other activities online. They also learn the appropriate ways to respond when they are the subject of a cyber bullying incident.

Through the game, the children earn points by reading about the characteristics of the "cyber bully monster" and tips for proper cyber behaviour. They can also send "respect cards" containing such tips to their friends.

The programme is jointly developed by Korean company infollutionZERO and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Dr Yuhyun Park, chief executive and co-founder of infollutionZERO, also announced the launch of an iZ HERO mobile application, which is an extended version of the online game and covers a wider range of problematic online behaviour.

The free mobile app, currently available only on Android platforms, uses a role-playing game format to engage its players.

Dr Park, also the director of academic projects at NTU, described her creations as using the approach of the Pokemon, a Japanese video game that involves some 700 characters.

"In Pokemon, there are so many characters with different traits and the kids can actually memorise all of them," she said.

"So I was inspired by that, and then I made a monster for each type of cyber misbehaviour. So in the mobile app, there's a monster who says mean things, a monster who is addicted to gaming, and a monster who watches pornography."

She added that she does not "deliberately try to teach the kids anything through the game".

"By portraying the cyber bullies as monsters, hopefully the players will learn naturally while playing the game and the right way to deal with cyber misbehaviour," she said.

All primary schools will receive two programme packages - a class package that will guide teachers to incorporate activities promoting responsible digital behaviour, and a family package that allows pupils to participate in activities with their parents.

West View Primary in Bukit Panjang is the first primary school to roll out the iZ HERO Challenge programme to all its pupils. The school will be carrying out activities promoting responsible cyber behaviour from now until Friday.

The Media Literacy Council launched the cyber wellness programme in conjunction with the global Safer Internet Day, which falls on the second Tuesday of February.

Safer Internet Day is a global initiative started in 2004 to promote safe and responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people. It is Singapore's second year participating in the global initiative.

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