Tag Archives: MySociaLife

The Social Dilemma – are your students puppets to social media?

Netflix smash hit movie on the influence of social media is one of the most talked about this year.

With 4.5bn online – and approximately 4bn of them on mobile devices – social media is now as commonplace as eating lunch. It is not an exaggeration to say that most people spend more time on social media than they do eating or bathing, or even talking in person to other human beings. 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) – and COVID-19 – have dramatically accelerated the adoption of technologies and smart devices, but are we ploughing into the future as the untested guinea pigs of these technologies, in a race to compete or to be accepted socially?

Netflix’s new smash hit documentary, The Social Dilemma, poses this question on the impact of these digital platforms, using the voices of a number of former senior-executives-turned-whistleblowers who reveal the true motivations of some of the most powerful companies on earth. 

The movie illustrates that society finds itself as the product in ‘the attention economy‘ – where time on screen means competitive advantage to giants like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google (FAANG). The longer we stay on a single platform, the more data they collect, the more customized the ads are which can be served to you based upon your digital choices and preferences, and the higher the company value. 

The debate is whether we are all just “lab rats” in an egotistical race to market dominance, or as Tristan Harris from the Centre for Humane Technologies puts it, “The race to the bottom of the brain stem”. Which social platform can gain significant edge to amass the most data and retain marketshare, eyeballs and influence?

That last word – influence – is, of course, the concern. Adults feel that they have the critical thinking skills to discern when they are being manipulated and ‘sold’ a dummy. For this reason, many may be entertained by the movie, even shocked, but little in their concrete daily patterns of behavior may change. 

Getting this message into Generation Z, however, can shape the way they consume content, and give them the opportunity to get up to speed with the reality of social manipulation, at a critical formative junction. 

And many adults can establish an objective view of what social media really is – tech companies competing in the attention economy.That doesn’t mean they stop using it, it means they see it for what it is. MySociaLife, the leading digital life skills program in South African schools proposes, “We need to help kids to move from safer to smarter so they can explore and excel.”

Dean McCoubrey, Founder of MySociaLife, says, “I have been following many of these speakers and other professors in the movie for the last few years – I communicate with a few of them in the US via LinkedIn and email, and some are often happy to help our education program here in South Africa. They were a significant reason why I decided to move from being a media agency agency owner myself, to teach kids in schools about media literacy, online safety and their use of devices and social platforms.”

Parents work hard to build a values system in the home, and schools seek to do similar. Parents want, and society desperately needs, our kids to have an informed and balanced world view, compassion, empathy, and the skills of critical thinking. While the internet exposes us to more, and educates us, an algorithm can swim upstream against these values, feeding us more and more information to keep us glued to our screens. When you add in the science of how the brain works and the dopamine that gets delivered to the pleasure centre in the brain – when you get a like or succeed in a mission on a game – you can understand why devices are stuck into our palms, bags and back pockets. Before long we can believe what we are being fed, rather than contemplate it or challenge it. Virtual hamsters on a wheel. 

MySociaLife deeply believes critical thinking, and the 8 digital soft skills that they teach in schools, will be the superpower combination to accompany technical ability, for Generation Z. The problem is that schools need more understanding of the complexity of life online and how to straddle the line of popular culture and important life skills while inspiring their students to embrace technology safely and intelligently. 

“Right now, there aren’t enough educators that can understand this massive landscape of digital identity, reputation management, privacy, security, sexuality online, critical thinking, mental health, compassion – and empathy and how this looks in an online context. That’s what makes our program successful. Students find it relatable and they give us credit for it, saying that it impacts the way the view this digital world they operate in,” he concludes. For interviews, please contact Mediaweb on info@mediaweb.co.za or call 0214193144

Digital Life Skills company responds with video training for kids at risk online

COVID-19 has kept kids indoors, isolated from friends, and driven to increased screen time. But for many, that comes with challenges.

Last week, MySociaLife, South Africa’s leading educators in online safety and social media, asked students what digital life orientation lesson they wanted next. And we were shocked by the answer…

  • 44% chose Mental Health as the topic they would request next from MySociaLife
  • 22% chose to ask for help with attention and focus 
  • 60% said their screen time had increased by 3 hours or more

Before Lockdown our teens and pre-teens struggled with life online lacking the maturity and emotional regulation to control the devices and content they watch, play and engage with for many hours a day. With increased screen time, these problems have only magnified, according to Founder of MySociaLife, Dean McCoubrey. And yet there are less than a handful of digital experts in the entire country that cover this extent of digital education.

Schools are feeling overwhelmed with firstly the rapid move to “Corona School” requirements and now back to getting schools, ready to welcome students back to a safe environment of learning and finding time to fit in the extra’s is intimidating and overwhelming but our kids need the guidance and support to ensure that they are safer and smarter online. As a result, SA’s leading ‘Digital Life Skills’ program in schools has now been made available by video for life orientation or IT teachers to run easily using a combination of lesson plan, slide deck with videos and animations, workshop exercises and an end of module test.

Click here for a video explainer.

Read MORE

THE ‘LOCKDOWN’ WEBINAR FOR PARENTS

Owing to popular demand and requests from parents who missed the 1st webinar, MySociaLife will be running a repeat of the Parent Digital Life skills webinar tomorrow, 21 April at 10am, where we will be discussing online safety & offering a screen time guide for parents. Please feel free to circulate to other parents, who you think will be interested or please send to your schools and request that they encourage other parents to register if they would like to learn more about digital life skills for their children but also to equip themselves as parents during this challenging time when kids are online more than ever before.

The online safety, social media, & screen time guide – ‘LOCKDOWN’ WEBINAR FOR PARENTS

A 60-minute social media presentation by SA’s digital life skills experts to help parents of teens and pre-teens, now stuck at home during Lockdown. Social media education specialists, MySociaLife, share a useful toolbox of tips for parents seeking to understand more about their teen’s “online” life, and proposing how parents can start to approach and prepare their teenagers as balanced and aware “digital citizens” – including how to get closer to their life online, and how to set boundaries and stick to them.

**BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND FROM PARENTS**
​​​​​​​The online safety, social media, & screentime guide!

THE ‘LOCKDOWN’ WEBINAR FOR PARENTS, R95 / PERSON (NORMALLY R140)

·         You are not alone: Why parents were struggling with kids and devices…even before Lockdown!
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There are multiple reasons why kids can’t put their phones down, and keep coming back. When you understand that, it changes your approach.

·         What many kids don’t tell their parents about their life online! And the beautiful opportunity during Lockdown. Want to know what kids say about their parents, term-after-term, and how you can change things to get closer to your kids? We share the questions and routes to get closer on this tricky topic.

​​·         The Good. The Bad. The Ugly? ​​​Firstly, we have to unpack the difference between good and bad screen time, and then work out our limits, and what should be ‘off limits’ with regard to online safety.

·         6 tips: The tools to provide a better safety net
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Now that you know the landscape, you can chart a clear way forward – we share a number of tools, as well as help you to set devices up better – so you see improvements.

Register here:

https://event.webinarjam.com/channel/MySociaLifeApril21

How to limit kids’ screen time during lockdown, AND …

equip parents adjusting to two new ‘battlegrounds’ – homeschooling and digital learning.

With lockdown potentially being extended beyond 21 days, parents are faced with a longer period of time indoors. Some have loved their time together, and others desperate for their old routine. Devices, social media, apps and games provide escape for both parents and kids, a much-needed “breather” in a long day of incarceration. And connecting to friends and chatting is important for humans.

But life online often comes with many by-products – bullying, exposure beyond what is age-appropriate, contact from strangers, sexting. More time online naturally means more risk. Parenting will be different over this unparalleled situation, to adjust to socialising and schoolwork, but our attitude to online safety should improve in relation to the amount of screen time. 

As Western Cape kids are set to “return to school” (while they stay at home), millions of parents have suddenly been transformed into ‘home-schoolers’? 

Dean McCoubrey, Founder of MySociaLife, the leading digital life skills and online safety program in schools in South Africa, answers some key questions … READ MORE

How do SA kids see Coronavirus in a TikTok and Instagram-based world?

And how can parents guide and support them? SA’s Digital Life Skills experts offer 7 key tips for parents.

As Covid-19 has exploded from a distant reality in South Africa to a global pandemic, with increasing local cases of the virus, we can count ourselves lucky to have almost instant access to information, education and updates on the status of disease. However, the sheer volume of information – fact based or hysteria-driven – can be overwhelming, even for adults. What does this information and the adults’ concern look like to our kids, and how are they consuming information on apps like TikTok, Instagram, or Snapchat? 

SA’s leading digital life skills expert, Dean McCoubrey, whose company MySociaLife teaches an 8-module social media program in SA schools, explains that the skill of critical thinking – the ability to question what may be true or false, safe or dangerous, right or wrong – is a key life skill in an explosive world of self-publishing, fake news, and cyberbullying. Consider how much time some teens (and even pre-teens spend online), what is interpreted and then discussed at school, irrespective of whether it may be fake news. Early cases of the virus have seen online hate and memes on some apps towards those with the virus.

Critical thinking – an essential 21st Century skill

Children and teens need to be guided about how to choose what content they consume about the disease, in addition to ongoing engagement with the adults they trust. Schools and parents often overlook the source of their children’s news.

“We’ve got more access to information about Covid-19 thanks to the internet and social media than we’ve had for any other global epidemics such as SARSMERS and the various Ebola outbreaks, which is helping to manage and treat it,” McCoubrey says. 

“The challenge with social media is that it can magnify our herd mentality. And anyone and everyone can publish information which may not be true or negative in a bid to get traction. In the middle of this are our children, who have yet to develop the ability to discern fake news from important facts, and can become overwhelmed or anxious if they are exposed to the wrong information.” 

There are a number of steps that parents can take to reassure children, discuss the implications of the disease, and equip them to self-manage their access to information. These include

READ MORE

Dean McCoubrey presenting

It is safer internet day today

Safer Internet Day empowers youth to make smarter online decisions.

Celebrated annually, Safer Internet Day takes place on Tuesday, 11 February 2020 and South Africa’s leading online safety Program in schools, MySociaLife, has partnered with the world’s global Safer Internet Day organisation to highlight bullying, harmful conduct, illegal online activity, and help give young people the tools they need to empower themselves online in South Africa.

There is a vast number of adults & children exploring social media apps, and yet very few young learners have been given any formal education and training.

With more than 22 millions South Africans on Facebook, 8 million on Instagram and 5 million now on teen hype-app, TikTok, there is a vast number of adults and children exploring social media apps, and yet very few young learners have been given any formal education and training,” says Dean McCoubrey, founder of MySociaLife, a South African in-school ‘Digital Life Skills Program’ teaching digital life skills program for schools.

READ MORE …

Children’s Mental Health Week 2020: 6 tips to help our youth navigate the digital world

One in every ten children between the ages of five and 17 suffers from a psychiatric disorder, with these illnesses likely to persist into adulthood, Children’s Mental Health Week from 3 to 9 February 2020 calls on parents and teachers to help children to identify the causes and manage these illnesses. However, many parents and teachers, even doctors and psychologists are feeling lost at sea by the technological divide.  

Dean McCoubrey, founder of MySociaLife, a South African in-school Digital Life Skills Program teaching digital life skills program for schools, says that young South Africans are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues caused by the country’s complex socio-economic environment, but there are a number of reasons why mental health can be impacted by online activity and social media usage. As if the instability and risk in the country isn’t enough to manage in traditional media, it is amplified by social feeds and instant message – the always on nature of phones and virality of social networks places this exposure in the paths of teens and pre-teens through a diversity of devices – phones, tablets, computers, consoles. “Although smartphones are relatively recent developments, there is already research linking social media use in children to depression, and there are a number of ways smart devices and social media can affect children and adults,” McCoubrey says. “This includes obsessive overuse, disconnection from real-world relationships, anxiety about what we have seen or experienced online, self-esteem and body issues from over exposure and comparison…. READ MORE

Anti-Bullying – sa ranks high in global survey

South Africa showed the highest prevalence of cyberbullying in a recent report by Ipsos Global, based on research in 28 countries. The report showed that more than 80% of South Africans said they were aware of cyberbullying and almost three-quarters of South Africans believe that the anti-bullying measures that are in place are insufficient. A Vodafone survey from 2018 ranked South Africa fourth for teen cyberbullying out of 13 countries, and Dean McCoubrey, founder of MySociaLife, a South African in-school Digital Life Skills Program teaching digital life skills program for schools, says that it’s likely even more prevalent, based on student feedback.

Read more

Contributed by MySociaLife

ADESSA welcomes its latest member: MySociaLife

The latest company to join the ranks of ADESSA members is MySociaLife. MySociaLife is a Program which trains Grade 4 to 11 learners to become safer and smarter online, in order to excel in the (4IR) future. They offer 10 modules in schools – critical thinking, digital identity, privacy, security, digital footprint, empathy, resilience, values, cyberbullying, and sexuality. They also train parents, teachers and Mental Health Professionals.

Dean, the CEO, presenting to a group of students

MySociaLife uses the World Economic Forum and DQ Institute pillars of digital citizenship, and also consults a Brains Trust of top doctors and consultants on the 10 topics and then get surveys from students who reveal what works and what doesn’t and what is happening in their lives.

We hope to share some of the insights from MySociaLife on this website in future.