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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Nov 27, 2009

"Be A New Media Parent" Workshop

Before we begin, please note that the introduction of the workshop topic, event and speakers, placed within parentheses on this blog, are quoted from the publicity material distributed by NLB. The above poster is reproduced with courtesy of NLB too.

[Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, GoogleApps, YouTube and Flickr are more than buzzwords of the day! These are some of the popular tools used by children and teens. As parents, how do you catch up with your children in this ever-evolving cyberspace? Wonder how can you use New Media tools to better bond with your children? Take this first step towards becoming a new media parent].

I pre-registered online for the “Be A New Media Parent” workshop organised by National Library Board and IDA at the National Library Building on Sunday, Nov 22 at 2.00 pm.

The moment I entered the Multi-Purpose Room at Central Public Library, Basement 1, I could see some heads turned towards me, with smiles on their faces. They must be wondering whether I have walked into the wrong room which was filled with young parents and their children.

“What's a Senior Citizen Like Me Doing in a Place Like This?” (adapted from the title of a 1963 Black & White movie “What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This” : )

Nonchalantly, I took my seat amongst the audience because I knew that I was in the right place.

My name was in the list of registered attendees at the counter and my application to attend the workshop was not rejected due to age criteria. I did not gate-crash : )

Although I was an “Old Media Parent” in an era when the Internet, Facebook, blogs, Google were unheard of. My children were born in the 1980s when the personal computer was hailed as the “greatest technological invention of the century". They took the computers for granted, I guess.

As a die-hard curious oldie who believes in the adage “live until old, learn until old”( 活到老, 学到老 ), I am forever learning new things which nourish me as “chicken soup of the soul” and to enable me to keep up with the New Media “thingy". (See, I can also use the Gen-X lingo ; ) and "no problemo". Its just a matter of adaptation.

It is timely and appropriate for NLB and IDA to hold this public talk on a topic which is relevant for “New Media Parents” to understand their “New Media Children”. It will help to narrow the perception and communication gaps created by rapid, advanced technology. Parents and children will then be able to “speak the same language” and bond the parent-child relationship in the modern age.

This was never an issue in the early days when both parents and children read books in printform instead of e-Media and write on paper instead of using SMS texting, Twitter and other forms of wireless communication; including the indispensable mobile phone. Everybody has one, it seems. Even Grandma, most likely hard of hearing, was heard shouting on the mobile phone in the train, instructing the house-helper: "Hey quick, bring in the laundry, its raining" !!!

On with the blog....

[Featuring three speakers of different backgrounds, each well-plugged into the world of New Media, the workshop offers parents an opportunity to learn about the essentials of New Media, how they can better bond with their children with these modern tools, and use them in a responsible and secure way.]

Photo shows Daddy Esman, Nyla and Mommy Nura.

[First speaker Nura J-Esman, a mother of one, a certified educator, celebrity and model. shares her own experience of how a parent can embark on new fun adventures with their children using New Media. She will speak about the joy of using New Media to play, study and have fun with her four-year-old daughter, Nyla.]

My first impression of Nura when she stood up to speak was that this is a home-bred Singaporean "personne confiante” modern mother who is energetic, knowledgeable and oozing with confidence.

(Photo shows Nura speaking to an attentive audience).

When handed a microphone, she said that she doesn't need one as she was a teacher and her power-packed voice could be heard by everyone in the room. Cool.

After her interesting talk, I had many questions to ask Nura, but refrained myself because time was limited and I saw several raised hands. I felt that it would be impolite and unfair to dominate the Q & A session and deprive others in the audience to seek Nura's advice and clarifications on her parenting experience using the New Media.

Nura is like our modern day Dr. Spock, author of "Baby Child Care" whose work and research influenced how Americans brought up an entire generation of young people.

However, Dr Spock's western methods of parenting doesn't go well with most traditional Asian parents, who do not believe that the wailing and cries of the babies are good for their lungs. ( I mean the babies' lungs, not their grandparents') Just let the babies cry their hearts out and ignore them. This was what the good doctor advised young parents, I was told.

Anyways, Nura is not a medical doctor. She is a certified educator who has found innovative ways using the New Media, nurtured with tender, loving care and discipline, to teach her 4-year old daughter. Nyla is responding well to the lesson plans and has shown positive signs in her intellectual developments. Well Done, Nura!

I needn't have to worry about the questions I didn't get the chance to ask Nura at the workshop. This bubbly, Internet-savvy mom has a blog of her own  here.

And she's on Facebook too. Amazing, isn't it?

The following are the excerpts from her blog. They somewhat answered the questions which I intended to ask her:

Mothering and Teaching.

“Every mom's challenge is to do something we love and at the same time have a fulfilling family life. I am feeling a great degree of happiness right now because the current work situation allows for that integration”.

“Teaching has been and will always remain my passion. To be precise, I am most effective dealing with children of low ability. I was still a beginning teacher when the school saw my potential and entrusted me to be the form teacher of a Primary Six EM3 class, which performed really well during the PSLE”.

“In school, I have a reputation of being that garang teacher who has no problems managing a class. I was flexible yet set boundaries, understanding yet firm, playful yet can have a serious temperament. Even the pupils were shocked when they realised I wasn't at all like the Kak Nura in KRAYON".

“Trust me, we have our tough moments. As in really really tough I had to put both my fists in my pockets just so I wouldn't be tempted to let them fly out and hit that oh so sweet face, her arms
and legs....And then we also have her moments of "I WANT ANOTHER MOMMMYYYYYYYY!" and how I was so terribly afraid she would burst a capillary in her eye!

Despite the tumultuous times, I love her. Duh. Siapa la tak sayang anak kan?”

Its wonderful to know that Nura is using her blog to express and share her journey of motherhood. It saves her the time and energy to repeat the same answers to different people on different occasions. She could jolly well tell them “Please check out my blog for the answers…hahaha!

The websites Nura recommended to preschool kids are:

Sesame Street


Disney TV

[Second speaker Matthew Zachary Liu, a blogger, student, host, actor, singer, songwriter and short film producer all rolled into one, introduces parents to some of the more popular New Media tools amongst teens, through lively demonstrations and step-by-step instructions. He encourages parents to take the first step to connect with their kids in the cyberspace with ease.]

Matthew Zachary Liu is one guy whom concerned parents would find it comfortable to discuss about their children's pre-occupation with the Internet, Facebook, blogging and online games.

He is a very open person...honest, frank and outspoken to the point of telling one parent who asked him how she could “stalk” on her son and check on his Facebook activities. Matthew hinted that this is tantamount to an invasion of personal privacy. He did not say it in so many words though.

Matthew mentioned about the advantages of the New Media for easy accessibility, expanding social network to connect with friends and family and immediacy: whatever you or others put up on the Internet could be seen immediately. He referred to the “YouTube Generation” and how people can view all sorts of contents on YouTube.

He assured the parents that Facebook is a global social networking website and there are security features which protect the privacy of the registered users to connect with people discriminately. Facebook users reserve the rights to accept or reject other users' request to be their Facebook friends. There are also ways to customise Google settings for parental guidance.

These days, some employers also use Facebook to find out more about their employees.

So its an open platform through which people have to express themselves responsibly in a civil “virtual” environment. "You can see me, I can see you too." Its an "open concept" with no walls or barriers to block communication..

This is good advice, I think. Peeps (which means people in the new lingo) ought to be able to take jokes. If they don't like it, they should say so to avoid any misunderstandings and miscommunication. We have to respect the individual's preference for the type of jokes that people crack. (The italics are mine).

Young people find it very fun; including posting pictures of “unglam" (unglamorous) moments of their friends to Facebook...just for gags!

Matthew shared an anecdote about a daughter and mother who are Facebook friends and they “talked” to one another on Facebook although they were in the next room in the house.

Twitter is even worse...imagine receiving a Twitter message: “I'm now in the toilet doing my business ; ) far will the New Media go???  &nbsp There are so many imaginative variations. Like, one day I noticed a young gal took a picture of her face with her mobile phone camera to check her make-up and hair-do; something which a handy mirror could have done the job. Yet again, she had found more ways to use her mobile phone.

Matthew gave a general overview and online demonstration on the use of the New Media tools...all of which he had dabbled with and is extremely skillful.

To add to the fun discussion when the audience were warmed up and more relaxed, I too poked (as in Facebook poking) Matthew with this question:

“Could you please help to introduce the New Media to Senior Citizens the way you introduce this very useful knowledge to young parents?”

He gave me a polite answer...

Please check out his "My Life, My Dream, My Story  blog to discover the extraordinary feat of this creative young man.

[Third speaker Kelvin Tan, Vice President of New Media at ServTouch ETi, encourages parents to take a positive and safe approach in using New Media. He provides insights on how New Media works, delves into some of negative contents that their children could be in touch with, and shares the precautionary steps they can take and how they can guide their kids to use New Media responsibly.]

Kelvin shared his views on “How safe is New Media?” “Are kids old enough to roam ALONE in the Internet world unguided?”

He highlighted that there is no privacy in the New Media world. There is increased popularity and accessibility as everyone is getting on board of this “mothership” called Internet.

Even President Obama of the United States of America is on the New Media. He used Facebook vigorously during his election campaigns.

According to Matthew, time control is very important.

The mobile phones could be misused as a new cyber-bullying weapon.

He also spoke on parental control tools for tracking of kids behaviour on the PC, content protection software such as Net Nanny.

Kelvin also dwelt on potential risks such as vulgarities, bad use of English, offensive and adult content, over-spending on virtual currency for online games and Internet addiction.

He described the New Media generation as one which lacks social communication skills.

In my opinion, the New Media is a double-edged sword. People have to learn how to use it with care, to apply the social networking devices discreetly for well-intentioned purposes.

The question is: "Do we use it to slay the cookie monster or destroy our fellow men?"

We have to selectively derive whatever that is beneficial and discard the harmful elements.

The poppy plant is not totally exterminated because morphine extracted from the plant could be used for medical purposes; whilst opium as a form of drug abuse is harmful to mankind.



Blogger Ivan Chew said...

Thanks for the write-up. Hmm, did the last speaker really say "the New Media generation as one which lacks social communication skills"?

I'm not sure if that's an accurate generalisation. I think there are kids who have good social skills (online and off) and those who don't. If the suggestion is that online activities degrade one's social skills, I think the opposite might be true -- in that online platforms would generally expose one to people that we may not get to meet in real life. Granted that one won't become a great social communicator just being online, but I'm not too sure if it'll degrade one's social skills.

December 15, 2009 at 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This kind of work shop is really necessary in this period.Propel get the real thing through this one it is very nice and important for all .

January 1, 2010 at 1:06 PM  

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