Several Barbadian educators, school children and parents are now better educated about the possible dangers that could present themselves through virtual learning.
The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training has sought to raise awareness among them, through a series of virtual interactive sessions on the topic: Cyber-Bullying and Addiction.
The UNICEF-sponsored workshops, held this week, were conducted by Ekco Nation, a local charity with a mission to equip young people with the knowledge to identify and counteract the impact of various negative influences, such as music, social media and the internet, on their psyche and lives in general.
One of the hour-long sessions tailored to teens covered several topics, including cyber-bullying and good media balance.
Director and Founder of Ekco Nation, Arnal Goslin, encouraged participants to be “good digital citizens”, as he made an appeal for them to be mindful of the content they view or create, as it could impact their future.
“What you do in the online world can impact your real world, for example your privacy and safety, your image, reputation and character. It can also impact your academic and career in the future,” Mr. Goslin stressed, as he warned that anonymity did not exist in the online world.
Additionally, he underscored the importance of teenagers having psychological resilience in this fast-paced digital age, explaining that this meant recognising when something was destructive to their development and taking the necessary remedial action.
Turning his attention to the possibility of becoming “addicted to the screen”, the youth advocate highlighted the need for “good media balance”.
He urged them to evaluate the amount of time they spent on a device, and to determine its effect on their physical and mental well-being, sleep patterns and social engagement with family and friends.
Mr. Goslin also raised the issue of cyber-bullying and its repercussions, pointing out that such actions were an offence under the Computer Misuse Act. While condemning the involvement in such activities, he encouraged persons to report these occurrences to the authorities.
During the session focusing on parenting in this digital age, Mr. Goslin urged parents and guardians to educate themselves on the various types of technology, including the devices and Apps being used, the type of content to which their children were exposed, and their “social media friends”.
He further advised that they monitor and supervise both the time children spent online and the activities in which they engaged.
Additionally, Mr. Goslin recommended that parents have the “internet talk” with their children, noting that this should focus on how to safely navigate the web, and include encouraging minors to speak up about cyber-bullying or any other strange or suspicious activities.