The development of a web–based, psycho–educational strategy for safe internet use amongst adolescents in the northern suburbs of Cape Town
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Within this study, a psycho-educational strategy was designed to promote online safety practices for adolescents living in the northern suburbs of Cape Town. The study made use of a mixed method methodology, including both quantitative and qualitative research. This enabled access to 183 adolescents, as well as gaining more focused and specific insights from adolescent focus groups with a total of eight focus groups. This psycho-educational strategy was designed in the form of an interactive website. The website included information on safety practices pertaining to six areas of online safety. The information was provided in various formats, including videos, clips, slide shows and questionnaires. The six areas which were focused on included cyber bullying, pornography, social networking, online gaming, sharing of personal information and plagiarising and stealing of content. Adolescents were exposed to the website in order to test its usability and its effectiveness as a tool for education regarding online safety. From the literature and findings of the research, it is evident that there is a dire need for age-appropriate and relevant mechanisms to address online safety among adolescents. The present research revealed; through the remarks obtained from focus groups, that adolescents could benefit from the psycho-educational strategy as it created an awareness of the possible harms of the internet; awareness that was previously limited. Specific areas of concern included cyber bullying and the reality that they face regarding this hurtful activity. Adolescents further indicated that they lacked knowledge in areas concerning pornography, plagiarising and sharing of personal information. By creating an awareness regarding possible harms, adolescents are enabled to safeguard themselves from potential harm, and if education is used in future, it can play a preventative role in terms of the negative consequences of online activities. The research indicated that a psycho-educational perspective holds value when addressing online safety. Lastly, the internet as a form of psycho-education was successful as the adolescents accepted and related to this means of education. The psycho-educational strategy is an innovative tool that can be used by schools, parents and educators when engaging with adolescents about online safety.
- Humanities