Jiow Hee Jhee

Real Life Stories of Change

Guiding His Children to Responsible Web Use – Dr Jiow Hee Jhee

Find out how Dr Jiow Hee Jhee set media usage boundaries for his children.

How parents spark excessive media usage

If you've seen families eating out, transfixed by their smart devices throughout a dinner session, you would probably understand why Dr Jiow, Assistant Professor, Health & Social Sciences, Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), and member of Media Literacy Council, did extensive research on children's media habits and how parents are dealing with it.

In his research, he found two common reasons for the high consumption of media in children. First, many parents use smart devices as babysitting tools, and leave their very young children unsupervised with these devices. Second, some parents use the media excessively, thereby influencing their children to follow their media habits.

He cited one example of using smart devices as a babysitting tool: “Last year, I encountered a parent seeking advice on how to get her 8-year old son off the video game he had been playing on the iPad. Apparently, the iPad was given to him to play video games since he was young as a way to babysit him.”

Guiding his children to responsible web usage

As a believer in the intentional use of media devices, Dr Jiow started to enforce tight supervision and guided use of the internet when his children began to head online to do their homework, and use WhatsApp to communicate with team mates in co-curricular activities.

“I bought a huge monitor and placed it in the living room which affords audio and visual transparency, and taught them how to surf the internet. For my eldest daughter, I signed a 'Smart Device Ownership' contract with her, and I used that to point out my expectations of her, and to teach her respect and responsibility.” he said.

Apart from enforcing rules, Dr Jiow makes it a point to set a positive example by using the internet in view of everyone, and viewing Facebook content or their team mates' sports videos together with the family.

As his children demonstrate maturity and responsibility in the use of media and technology, Dr Jiow relaxed the boundaries.

And what did his daughter think of the rules he set up for her?

“I am receptive to the rules, as I understand where my daddy is coming from,” said Dr Jiow's 13-year old daughter. “It is not like the rules cannot change. They will be relaxed when I am responsible and disciplined with my usage. I have to account to my daddy because there are things that I may not know that is not appropriate for me.”

Dr Jiow's advice to parents

For children to learn to become media users with a balanced health, school, family and social life, Dr Jiow had these tips to share to parents:

  • Know the media: Keep abreast of the technological developments and affordances of the media, such as knowing what Instagram is, its functions and privacy settings.
  • Know the media user: Know your children's reasons for using the internet. In Dr Jiow's case, his daughter wanted to use WhatsApp to communicate with her team mates, and he knew that sometimes the consequence of not allowing her usage may cause her to be socially ostracised. When he saw his daughter proving herself faithful by being accountable to his expectations, he entrusted her with more things.

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