Mr Aubeck Kam,
CEO, Media Development Authority,
Mr Martin Tan,
Principal of Anderson Primary School,
Teachers and students of Anderson Primary School,
1 I am pleased to be here today to mark the start of a nationwide campaign to spread the message on the importance of cyber wellness. Key to our outreach effort is young school children and their families as they are particularly susceptible to the negative aspects of the Internet. The Media Development Authority or MDA, together with industry and community support groups, will be running this educational campaign. As part of the campaign, a roving bus outfitted with interactive kiosks, quizzes, games, online competitions and talks, will travel to different primary schools to engage students, parents and teachers over the next three months.
2. The response by the schools has been most encouraging. Prior to today’s launch, the bus has already been fully booked for the next three months and will make its way to 41 schools and 13 public venues such as libraries and community clubs. As a result, MDA will be extending the outreach beyond the three months for all primary schools in Singapore to have the opportunity to experience the rich information in this bus. I strongly encourage all students, teachers and parents to participate in these activities.
3. Singapore is today one of the most digitally-wired nations in the world. By 2012, almost all homes in Singapore will be wired up to the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network. Internet users here can look forward to even faster access to the Internet and its services with download speeds of up to 1Gigabits per second.
4. At the same time, the fact that we are so wired up also brings in its wake, new concerns about online safety. According to a report by computer security firm Kaspersky, its Parental Control module recorded that worldwide, minors attempted to access adult content sites 160,000 times per hour. Another study, the 2010 Norton Online Family Report, highlighted that only 36 per cent of parents said that they always knew what their children were looking at online. Against this backdrop, it is highly relevant that we are launching the cyber wellness campaign. While anyone can benefit from this campaign, it has a particular focus on children from ages seven to 12 years old, as well as parents in general.
5. With the Internet fast becoming an inseparable part of our lives, children as young as five years of age are going online to socialise, play games, create avatars and even trade for online game effects. Being young, children tend to be at a greater risk of online predatory behaviour. For instance, they may make virtual friends easily and unwittingly reveal personal information, or meet someone in real life whose motives are doubtful. As such, they will benefit from knowing how to better protect themselves online while learning how to be more discerning about the activities and things they read and come across on the Internet.
6. Parents also play a key role in shaping their children’s media habits. Today we see an ever-increasing amount of entertainment and media content, on a rising number of viewing platforms. There is a greater need for parents to be more aware of what their child watches, listens to or reads. Through this campaign, parents can learn more about educating, engaging and empowering children as they use the Internet for school work and for play. We also hope that parents can encourage their children to tell them, without fear of being blamed, about potentially inappropriate behaviour online. These will help to strengthen a lifelong commitment to safe and responsible online use.
7. While parents and children themselves can help to build a safer online environment for work and for play, the government and industry also play an important role in promoting cyber safety. That is why, the Inter-Ministry Cyber Wellness Steering Committee or ICSC was set up in 2009 with a $10 million fund to work with the public, private and people (3P) sectors to promote the discerning and responsible use of media over five years. To date, the ICSC has put out two Calls-for-Proposals to fund and kick-start cyber wellness initiatives. This is in line with our 3P approach of encouraging greater community ownership and private sector support for cyber wellness programmes for youths.
8. The launch of today’s cyber wellness campaign is a good example of the public, people and private sectors coming together to promote discerning and responsible media use. The Government will continue to fund and support worthy cyber wellness projects that have reach, impact, and are scalable in nature. I encourage more parties to come forth with their proposals, so that we can entrench a strong cyber culture in Singapore.
9. In closing, I would like to thank the principal and staff of Anderson Primary School for being so supportive of this campaign. In addition, the Ministry of Education has done much to encourage schools to promote cyber wellness. I applaud these efforts as they contribute towards promoting a healthy cyber culture in our community.
10. Finally, my parting message to parents is “Take an active interest in what your children are doing online”. To children, “Learn and have fun online but protect yourself along the way too.” Thank you.