Cyber Wellness is about the proactive and positive use of the internet, social and mobile applications.
Cyber Wellness is not a new concept, its the non-techie version of online safety. This is about the ideal online behaviour– how digital media, social and mobile applications are used with the end in mind of adding value, and protecting oneself from any forms of cyber abuse and bullying.
Why Cyber Wellness?
This picture from Facebook page Dim Sum and Doughnuts can best illustrate the need for a Cyber Wellness program.
The Evolution of Cyber Wellness in the Philippines
The idea to start a campaign like this was conceptualised on 2010.
It was a turning point for the early adopters of blogging and social media back then because mainstream media and PR/Ad/Marketing agencies have embraced the platform. So early adopters, like me, have chosen a niche to take advantage of this opportunity. Some embraced Digital Marketing and PR, others Politics and still others eCommerce, and these colleagues are now popular in the niche they have chosen.
As for me, I stuck to my HR and OD origin and decided to influence the industry (human resource management) instead to go digital social and mobile. But I thought then, if others will engage executives to convince companies to take advantage of the opportunity and protect their reputation, why not offer the same to families?
Keep Your Family Safe Online Seminars
So I presented via Facebook the idea of holding a supposedly one time parenting seminar. Chay Saputil, who was promoting online safety for a software company volunteered to help-out. Carlo Ople, who was a gamer then, also volunteered to share his experience so parents will be enlightened of the effects of gaming. Girlie Corda, who was into creatives and strategic communications, volunteered to do the creative materials for us. The seminar was an instant hit, and the learning event has become one of the sought after seminars for parents. Thus, the first phase of cyber wellness campaign was born.
Because of the turn of events, the announcement page, websafetyforparents.org, was converted to a blog, and became our platform to discuss web safety tips for parents. It eventually won the Best in Advocacy Blog on 2010.
The following year, 2011, the same initiative propelled us to become a finalist for Globe’s 1st [email protected] Awards.
Cyber/Bullying Awareness and Prevention Campaign
Not long after that, the program evolved from teaching parents, to educating young people to be responsible on their online behaviour. Unknown to these youngsters, they can either be victims of cyber bullying or bashers of another person. I thought back then, anytime soon, cyber bullying will become a major issue. I published a blog post/open letter ( I can’t recall if I also sent an email to major networks, but I think I did) inviting them to collaborate and help out on the campaign. Anytime soon, I thought then, there will be major issue. I got no response, but a few weeks after that, a network launched their think before you click campaign.
As I was anticipating (but hoping it’ll not happen), a major cyber bullying incident broke out– the Chris Lao, “I was not informed”, case. The irony was, a news clip of the same network which launched above campaign, was the trigger point of nationwide cyber bullying.
Because we’re campaigning online about the threat of cyber abuse, before a major incident happened, we’ve been invited left and right for our awareness and prevention campaign in schools.
Parents, Schools and Cyber Wellness
Add to that, an interesting jurisprudence by the Supreme Court. A resolution in a case wherein students were disbarred from marching on their graduation day because of an online behaviour that violated school policy, underscored the need for schools and parents to work closely in ensuring kids will be responsible users of social media and mobile apps.
Because of the changes in our digital landscape, our program further evolved. Our approach has become holistic to include all stakeholders. Our democratic space is a breeding ground for online abuse, thus, educating parents, kiddos and the academe is the best defence from abuses.
We’ve been to different schools, colleges and universities, parent organisations, NGOs to facilitate cyber wellness learning activities. Some schools even incorporated our cyber wellness program for their faculty development seminar.
What comprises a Cyber Wellness program
We seek to provide an integrated learning, so all stakeholders will be on the same page as far as the objectives are concern
- School Admin
- Faculty Members and Guidance Counselors
- Corporations and Employees
- NGOs and Social Workers
- Government (Dep Ed and Baranggay)
Main Objectives of the Program:
- For Schools: Align school policies to that of the legal framework, Dep Ed guidelines and best practices.
- For Corporations: Enhanced company policies to reflect provisions of the cybercrime and data privacy laws
- Provide learning interventions that will enhance positive and proactive use of internet, social web and mobile platforms. With the end result of adding value to oneself and the organization they represent
- Equip participants how to protect themselves, the family and the school and the organization they represent from negative online experiences or cyber abuses. And know how to respond when they faced one
- Bridge the digital divide
- Provide awareness of the effects of bullying and other forms of cyber abuses
Cyber Wellness Advocate Partners
We are open for collaboration with other advocates, brands, NGOs to advance our common interests, despite the differences in the nature of our initiatives.
More needs to be done
My Facebook account, Page and this blog has become a help line/ chat support for parents, kiddos and other victims of cyber abuse who are seeking help. I personally brought the experiences of these victims to DOJ. The need right now is have a facility for victims to talk to someone anonymously but freely (while they are still embarrassed, confused and not confident yet to disclose their identities). Some would like to commit suicide, others (victims and their parents) are ashamed because of scandalous videos or nude photos involve. To add disappointment to rather awful experience, when they visit a women and child protection unit of PNP, or the Cybercrime units of either PNP and NBI, the victims alleged that they were advised by these agencies that it’ll be difficult and expensive to identify the culprit, discouraging them on the process. Here’s hoping that DOJ will be able to address these concerns in the future.
How You Can Participate?
If you’re from the academe either as a guidance counselor, teacher, as a decision maker, you can make cyber wellness as integral part of the (1) academic and non academic programs of students (all levels), (2) collaborate w/ the parent organizations to have the run the parent’s edition of this program to parents and (3) Include this in the faculty development seminar.
If you’re a parent, you can reach out to the school thru the parent organization or the class adviser of your kid and request for a learning intervention for kids and a digital parenting seminar.
If you’re an HR of you’re company, this is something that needs to be included in your engagement program because employee online behaviour affects not only productivity, but employee image and reputation.
You can reach us at asksonnie[at]outlook[dot]ph or +63949 384 3504 for assitance.
ASIDE: Sharing with you some of the photos of our cyber wellness learning sessions