This week, I was kindly invited to visit the TOUCH Cyberwellness (TCW) EXP² Enrichment Programme at Hougang Secondary School in Singapore. This programme is essentially prevention via enrichment. You can find out more about their programme from their website here.
I attended the first 2 days of their 3-day group EXP² programme for 20x teenage participants with 3x leaders (counsellors) and led by Mr Wai Mun Lam who has extensive experience mentoring young gamers at TCW.
The sessions I attended included group activities such as rock climbing and even LAN gaming!
5 Useful Things I learnt from EXP²:
1. Engagement is Key
The EXP² programme was run in the school holidays with a large group of participants, so the TCW team had to be clear, dynamic and interactive. They did this in the following ways:
- Communicating using language the students could understand. They spoke clearly and used different types of media such as videos to convey their message.
- Created a programme that was relevant. Participants were split into 3 separate groups. Each group was required to take ownership and develop their own set of self-governing rules and consequences.
- Created a supportive and safe environment. This was crucial for participants to reflect on their gaming behaviour and express themselves openly.
- Used interactive and stimulating challenges. This included team building activities such as outdoor rock climbing and an intense session of LAN gaming!
2. Want your child to spend less time gaming? Give them other activities
Although the children were surrounded by high-powered, connected, gaming PCs and consoles they did not seem to be distracted nor did they demand to play. They were just as excited to play a game of UNO or the simple wooden Japanese Kendama toy in between sessions. They successfully did this by carefully explaining their schedule and limiting allocated time for gaming to 30mins. The participants accepted that there was a time and place to game. More importantly, they did not seem to lose concentration after playing.
3. Self reflection the first step to change
On the second day, I asked a few participants what they thought of the program and what they found most useful. All of them reported that they realised they were “gaming too much” and that this was affecting their behaviour. Importantly, they were able to give me alternate ways to spend their time like playing outdoor sports or spending time with their family and friends. The Multiple Intelligences activity was also a great way for the participants to learn about themselves and how they interact with the world. It gave a guide as to what activities they were more suited towards other than just gaming.
4. It is important for children to have a dream
It is important for children to have a dream.. in real life! The first step to achieving your dream is to visualise it, plan for it and then believe in yourself. I found the rock climbing activity a great way to show the participants how to overcome their fears with a positive attitude and reach for their dreams. Mr Lam was very careful to get the participants to be as specific as possible with their dreams and to visualise what this might be like for them in 3-5years time. Many participants had their own points on the climbing wall where they felt stuck, but were successful on their next try. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. I could see the participants were really able to take away something useful from this activity, encouraging each other and walking away with a new sense of confidence.
5. Have a strategy
Combined with the Multiple Intelligences activity and the DIsC Personality activity the programme really provided the participants with a relevant “mind map.” By using this as a guide they were able to reflect on how their attributes affected their behaviour at home and school. They were also able to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses so that they could best come up with a strategy to reach their goals.
Final thoughts on prevention via enrichment
I can definitely see how the participants will be able to take something away from the EXP² programme. The TCW team are passionate about their work and genuinely care about the participants’ future. Essentially, the programme offers important life lessons not just for gamers but all young people, delivered in a clear, relevant and safe way. By enriching their lives they really do give the participants a strategy to actively take control over their attitudes and behaviour in life. The EXP² programme also provides a graduation ceremony and a comprehensive feedback session for the participants’ parents so they can continue to apply what they have learnt at home.
Thanks again to the TOUCH Cyberwellness team for inviting me to see their work. Also thank you to all the participants for sharing with me their experiences. I wish them all the very best in the future.
TOUCH Cyber Wellness
Blk 162, Bukit Merah Central
General Enquiries – 6273 5568
School Programmes – 6317 9926
Parents’ / Adult Workshop – 6317 9924
Centre Programmes – 6343 6925
Counselling Services (TOUCHline) – 1800 377 2252