A move to ensure the new school session in 2021 can be conducted safely, all schools in Malaysia are set to remain close for the rest of the year. The Ministry of Education decided the move after considering data analysis of COVID-19 cases involving students, teachers, and their close contacts. The new school year would begin on Jan 20, 2021. In addition, the Ministry has urged the school administrators to continue the home-based learning for teachers and students.
In conjunction with home-based learning, Kaspersky hosted an online forum to discuss ways keeping the kids safer online. Featuring industry experts including: Ong Kian Yew, Chief Executive Officer at PIKOM (the National Tech Association of Malaysia); Datuk Dr. Chiam Heng Keng, Founding President of The Early Childhood Care and Education Council Malaysia; and Nazrudin Habibur Rahman, a TV Host, Actor, Entrepreneur and father of three, the conference was hosted by Deborah Priya Henry, TV host, model and co-founder of an NGO which focuses on children education.
Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky underlined that between March to May 2020, as many as 47%-51% of Malaysian kids spent most of their time online searching for learning materials related to their online classes.
“It is a good sign that kids in Malaysia are using technology in a productive way. Our Digital Comfort Zone Report quantified the increase of internet usage because of the pandemic at up to two more hours every day in Southeast Asia. 63% parents agreed that their children are using the internet more than they did on the same period as compared to last year. Our study also revealed that parents fear for their children’s online safety, but are not putting time to talk about them. Because of these, we are glad to initiate such conversations today,” says Yeo.
For his part, Ong said that after several months of home-based learning for students and remote work for parents, both parents and students would continue to seek the right technology tools. The recently announced Malaysian Budget 2021, proposed that the relief on lifestyle expenses (such as computer, smartphone or tablet) be increased from RM2,500 to RM3,000.
“We foresee the proposed tax relief will boost the purchases of these smart devices to address any possible shortages to work from home and learn from home. At present, PIKOM members, in general, have already reported positive sales trend throughout the MCO period,” adds Ong.
Speaking on not attending schools and home-based learning, Datuk Dr. Chiam said that students miss their friends and doing school activities. For younger students, they are physically active and tend to have shorter attention span. Confinement at home and having parents who are also busy to keep kids interested, may potentially lead the young ones to frustrations, which may be demonstrated through being aggressive, intolerant, uncooperative, and disinterested.
“However, not everything is negative, as there are also many positive aspects of staying and learning at home. Parents can spend time doing things together, exercise together, or just have fun together. Our current situation enhances bonding and offers a perfect time for mothers and fathers to sit down with their kids and discuss things that matter – such as forming online habits to keep them safe.” explains Datuk.
Nazrudin, a Kaspersky user, commented that he enjoyed the stay at home and home-based learning with his kids but not without its own challenges. “I learned from Kaspersky that parents who are completely unfamiliar with video games may be tempted to completely ban their children from playing. However, banning is not the healthiest solution. This is because children may have peers that play games at school and by disallowing them from participating, they may feel like an outcast. So there should be a check and balance in parenting.”
“To achieve this balance, I personally install safety nets such as Kaspersky Safe Kids. I agree with Datuk Dr. Chiam, as one of the most effective way is to be good role models to our kids. For #teamnazrudin, we practice no smartphone during mealtimes and have conversations related to cyber safety, when they are in doubt. We are no experts in this area, but we will learn together,” he adds.
Kaspersky has some good tips for the parents:
- Spend more time communicating with your children about online safety measures. Tell your children what must not, under any circumstances, be published on the Internet and why.
- Surf and learn together. See where they spend their time online and explore how to best keep them safe. Also spending time to play online games, so you can learn from each other.
- Explain that all the sensitive information can be shared only via messengers and only with people you know in real life.
- And yes, we do recommend parents to install a cybersecurity software like Kaspersky Total Security to protect their kids against online threats. Kaspersky is offering a three-month free trial of Kaspersky Total Security available on their website.