Muscat, oCT 10 - With an alarming increase in the number of children falling prey to harmful video games, GCC educator Shahnaz Bahman has devoted an entire session on online safety awareness in her latest book.
A part of the series called ‘Life Skills’, the book looks at developing emotional and social intelligence.
The sixth book is aimed at sixth graders and covers topics such as My Success, My Feelings, My Family, My Friends, iSafe and My Learning Styles Survey.
The online safety awareness focuses on cyber bullying. The author, who hails from Bahrain, said, “Research shows the number of teenagers committing suicide because of cyber bullying has risen globally. We hear stories in schools every day. The problem is that we are not teaching the children the right skills.”
She said parents give their children the mobile phones but nobody has taught them how to handle situations they might face online.
“The book teaches children how to identify situations such as cyber bullying, what to do in such a situation and how to find support.”
Lot of students are blackmailed. “There are incidents of children being threatened and harmed. These are all results of inappropriate use of the internet. We teach them what to do if someone is blackmailing them. It is quite challenging for youngsters online.”
When asked about games such as ‘Blue Whale’ she said, “These games, one way or the other, are programing children’s brains without them being aware of it. Without the awareness among parents and children, youngsters can become victims. Some games encourage killings, violence as well as committing suicide.”
She said such games “give the child a sense of achievement. They set a challenge and once an act of violence is performed, then the person is awarded points and allowed to move to a higher level. It might be at a superficial level but on a deeper level, the children are being trained for violence. They are developing potential criminals in society. We need to be careful and the children need to be protected from becoming victims of these games,” said the educator.
In a section named iSafe, the learning focus is on the use of smart comebacks to stop others from insulting you.
“A smart comeback means responding to a bully in an unexpected way so that they feel shocked and speechless. If used correctly, they can be very effective.”
One of the ways of defusing a bullying situation is to use humour, writes the author.
“Changing a serious situation into a funny one, where people start laughing instead of getting angry and start reacting, can save the situation from escalating. Through humour, you can turn the situation around and start laughing with others rather than allowing them to laugh at you.”