Singaporean Youths in the Cyber World: A Study of Cyber Wellness Issues

Project Number
OER 01/11 AK

Project Duration
July 2011 - September 2012

Status
Completed

Abstract
This project investigates internet issues such as cyberbullying, sexual grooming and internet addiction among Singaporean youths, to see whether they are related to mental health and behavioural outcomes like empathy, aggression, loneliness, shyness and depression, and whether personal and family factors have an influence on these outcomes. A one-year study funded by ICSC has been completed. Results can be worrying. For example, 28% of students reported that they have had offline meetings with strangers. About 10% of boys have engaged in online sexual activities. Also, 36% of the participants reported having being cyberbullied. Results also found that students who take more risks on the internet tend to be those who have poorer relationships with their parents and also have poorer mental health. This project aims to extend the study by 5 months so that we can have a follow-up in a longitudinal study, to see whether patterns of internet use, especially those involving negative online behaviours change over a period of 1 year, and what cyber wellness issues persist over this period. This longitudinal data will enable us to identify risk and protective factors at Time 1 that predict positive or negative online behaviours at Time 2. Hence, the research will make an important contribution in moving beyond a dependence on cross-sectional correlational data. The data will also enable us to examine whether negative online behaviours have a long-term impact on students’ mental health. We will be able examine whether engagement in negative online behaviours at Time 1 impacts students mental health at Time 2, controlling for earlier levels of mental health. The data collected also allows an investigation into the cyber wellness programmes in schools. Another aim of this project is to look into how these programmes are delivered in schools and whether these programmes have an impact on the youths’ attitudinal and behavioural outcomes, especially risky internet activities. A third component of the project extends the first two studies to focus on intervention strategies for those who are at risk of Internet addiction. The project also aims to investigate perceptions of TOUCH Community Services’ clients as well as counsellors regarding coping and intervention strategies. Results from will help educators, cyberwellness coordinators and school counsellors better understand the problems faced by youths, and thus plan more effective cyberwellness programmes.

Funding Source
NIE

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