Iowa Media Literacy Conference 2017

Kingmaker at Iowa Media Literacy Conference

Reproduced from blog post at

Media Literacy is certainly the buzzword of 2017, the world having witnessed how powerful an effect it can have on users' daily perception & thoughts. Kingmaker ended the year by showcasing her latest intervention programmes for the Educators & Social Workers of Iowa State, USA. A total of 180 participants converged upon the city of Ames & Iowa State University to hear from some of the leading names in the area of media literacy.

Leading Media Literacy Researchers & Practitioners

Leading Media Literacy Researchers & Practitioners

Topics covered

  1. Cutting through the Hype: Understanding the Science on Media's Influence on Youth (Dr. Douglas Gentile, PhD, Professor, Iowa State University)
  2. Media's Influence on Adolescent Substance Use (Tyler Oesterle, M.D, M.P.H., Mayo Clinic Health Systems)
  3. Princesses & Superheroes: A discussion of Gender Stereotyping and Body Image Issues in Children's Media (Dr. Sarah Coyne, PhD, Associate Professor, Brigham Young University)
  4. Why Digital Literacy Gives Iowa an Edge in Education (Benjamin Petty, MS, Iowa School Superintendent)
  5. Building Digital Intelligence (Dr. Yuhyun Park, PhD, President, DQ Institute, Singapore)
  6. Evidence-Based Cyber Wellness & Media Literacy Programmes (Yeang Cherng Poh, MMC, Principal, Kingmaker Consultancy)
  7. Digital Intelligence (Dr. David Walsh, PhD, President, Mind Positive Parenting)

Design & Validation of Intervention Programmes

Mr. Poh Yeang Cherng presented the design & validation of Kingmaker's cyber wellness intervention programmes. Starting with a live demonstration of "Screen Time & Media Multitasking: Effects on Academic Productivity", the participants were treated to a full experience of what it feels like to be engaged on the primary concern for Educators & Parents alike.

Through a series of videos, live experiments & interaction, audience were shown how Kingmaker Trainers typically engage students between 12 to 18 years old. In essence, an effective intervention programme will have successfully engaged the participant in 4 areas:

  1. "The problem is serious"
  2. "The problem affects me"
  3. "If I take action, I will be able to address this problem"
  4. "I am capable of undertaking this action"

Media Literacy Research & Development

Kingmaker looks forward to the exciting collaboration ahead in new areas of R&D:

  1. Development of Media Literacy programmes for Iowa State
  2. Design of Intervention for various Media Effects on Children

Countering Cyber Bullying & Online Aggression

This article was first posted on STORM Magazine . I reproduce here the parts that I contributed via phone interview.

Defining Cyber Bullying

  1. Aggressive and negative behaviour exhibited through a technological platform.
  2. Intentionally done with the aim to cause harm to someone.
  3. The negative actions are done multiple times over a period of time and its consequences are repeated too, as posts made online remain there and can be seen by many people.
  4. There is a power imbalance in the relationship between the bully and the victim. Victims often find that they are helpless and are unable to “fight back” against their aggressor.

Cyber Wellness Research Data

Our research shows that about 10% of school children have experienced cyber bullying either as aggressors or victims.

Behaviour that doesn’t meet the above criteria is termed online aggression. It is far more common, affecting two-thirds of Internet users. While not as harmful, it can escalate to bullying if left unchecked in youths.

The Challenge

Children in their developmental years need to be nurtured and taught how to deal with the world around them and this is slowly achieved as they mature into young adults. However, the vast and varied space of the Internet opens the floodgates to many experiences — good and bad — and children are forced to grow up very fast. They may not yet be equipped with the skills to deal with the nature of these spaces and communities.

For example, the move from Primary 6 to Secondary 1 (and a new sense of independence and autonomy it brings) has shown to be a particularly trying transition where kids can be quickly exposed to the “real world” and the practices within.

The challenge when dealing with cyber bullying is the lack of awareness on the part of children. They often don’t realise what they are doing and saying online is nasty and hurtful. Sitting behind a computer screen, there is no feedback (in the way of facial expressions, body language, and social cues) for them to understand what effects their words and actions on the Internet can have on others. They need to be taught cognitive empathy and the consequences of their actions.

What Can Be Done

When dealing with the Internet, parents should teach children to conduct themselves well in cyber space — it is always best not to start, attract, or escalate aggression.

If your child finds himself being targeted by cyber bullies, he should:

  1. Stop the exchange.
  2. Block the aggressor
  3. Capture evidence
  4. Report the incident to an adult.

Considerations for Parenting

As a parent you would not let your child roam around a strange new place unsupervised. Why would you then let them do so on the Internet?

Research has shown that the consumption of media violence, readily available from various avenues, also contributes to increasing aggression. This increased aggression in adults and children, exhibited both in cyberspace and in the real world, is a complex issue that needs attention in coming years. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” solution we can use for a quick fix.

I conduct regular parenting & cyber wellness programmes in schools with Kingmaker Consultancy Pte. Ltd. Please contact Kingmaker or me directly for inquiries.

WhatsApp, Data-Sharing & Advertising: What Should Users Do?

This article was first posted on on 26 Aug 2016

The writing was on the wall. 2 years ago, Facebook acquired WhatsApp in a huge deal. A long wait followed to see when and how Facebook will begin to monetise the huge amount of user data that it acquired along with WhatsApp.

Yesterday (25 Aug 2016) 2 new stories were reported:

(1) WhatsApp data will be used by Facebook to send advertisements (source:

(2) WhatsApp will begin to send advertisements to users 

Implication for Privacy

  1. All the private messages, pictures, videos (that users send on WhatsApp) are now likely analysed for advertising trends
  2. It follows that all these information, including the embarrassing or undesirable, is archived somewhere (even though there is supposedly end-to-end encryption).
  3. The primary criteria for mining information is mileage for advertising.

Implication for Cyber Wellness

(1) Users need to be continually vigilant on what we share on any social media platform - embarrassing information will not disappear or be deleted.

  • Young children are especially vulnerable because most sites they use collect information for advertising.
  • What may not embarrass or concern users now may show up to be a concern later

(2) Take precautions & make privacy changes

In the next 30 days, Facebook (WhatsApp) will offer the chance to opt-out. Take 3 minutes to do it.

(3) Back to Step 1 - continue to be vigilant because it is unlikely that this will be the last attempt to monetise user data.

This comment is an opinion & not yet a fact - like we first talked about the possibility of data sharing with Facebook 2.5 years ago. However, current business models of most social media platforms (Snapchat, Google, Facebook etc) point to a likely & continual attempt to maximise monetisation & alter users' notion & expectations of privacy.

Kingmaker runs masterclasses on the most current issues. We engage parents, educators & students on Cyber Wellness, Media Literacy & Digital Citizenship. Inquire with us for our programmes