By Clair Deevy, Director of Community Affairs, Asia Pacific
Today we’re launching We Think Digital, an online education portal with interactive tutorials aimed at helping people think critically and share thoughtfully online. We designed the program in partnership with experts from across Asia Pacific, and aim to train 1 million people across 8 countries in Asia Pacific by 2020, with our resources available in 6 different languages.
Asia Pacific has a fast-growing internet population, with more than 2.21 billion people now online and 203 million new people joining in the past year, according to We Are Social’s 2019 Digital Trends Report. We Think Digital has been designed for new and existing internet users of all ages to develop the skills they need to safely enjoy digital technology, including critical thinking and empathy.
We’ve developed a series of online tutorials in collaboration with journalist Saffron Howden and with support from TJ Agulto from AHA Behavioral Design; Associate Professor Michael Dezuanni from the Queensland University of Technology; Professor Katherine Chen from National Chengchi University; Chairman Wayne Chau of the Agent of Change Foundation; Executive Director Hamish Curry of the Asia Education Foundation; and Dr Damien Spry, Lecturer of Media & Communications at the University of South Australia and Visiting Fellow at Queensland University of Technology’s Digital Media Research Centre. These academics and representatives from NGOs and civil society organizations across the region all came together to address the question: what does it mean to be a Digital Citizen?
The topics covered include privacy, safety, security, digital discourse and knowing your digital footprint. The four modules are:
- What Is the Internet? An explanation of the internet and social media, how they work, and the importance of digital citizenship.
- Your Digital Footprint: All you need to know about safety and security online and managing your digital footprint.
- Be a Critical Thinker: Helping you to discern different types of information and develop critical thinking and empathy when communicating online.
- You as a Digital Citizen: Insights into digital discourse and the differences between interacting online versus offline, your rights and responsibilities, as well as internet concepts like netiquette, being a creator, copyright and plagiarism.
We’re launching this program in Singapore first, before rolling it out to the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan. We also plan to bring this program beyond Asia Pacific to Argentina and Mexico. In Singapore, the program is supported by The People’s Association, an organization which works to bring Singaporeans from all walks of life together through community programs. We are also forming a regional Steering Committee, whose role will be to advise Facebook on how to ensure We Think Digital can bring the most value to communities across Asia Pacific. The committee will comprise members from around the region, and its first two members are Dr. Vu Minh Khuong, Associate Professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, and Dr. Pijitra Tsukamoto, Associate Professor at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University.
Mr Chia Tze Yee, the People’s Association’s Group Director, Engagement Group said: “Improving digital literacy and encouraging greater levels of digital citizenship benefits everyone in an increasingly connected community. The People’s Association recognizes the need to equip residents, especially seniors, with digital citizenship skills to exercise critical thinking and responsible online behaviour. We are happy to partner with Facebook to launch the We Think Digital initiative and are proud to be able to use our own ‘Seniors for Smart Nation’ programs and Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors to help deliver these valuable skills to the public.”
Mr Lock Wai Han, Chairman of Singapore’s Media Literacy Council, Singapore’s leading voice on media literacy and cyber wellness, added: “Programs like We Think Digital that keep pace with increasing online participation and the way we consume, create or share content are important to the promotion of astute and responsible digital citizenship and online safety in Singapore and across the region. This is a positive initiative from Facebook.”
Clair Deevy, Director of Community Affairs for Asia Pacific, introducing We Think Digital at today’s launch event at Facebook Singapore
From L-R: Mr Lock Wai Han, Chairman of Singapore’s Media Literacy Council, Clair Deevy, Facebook’s Director of Community Affairs for APAC, Mr Chia Tze Yee, the People’s Association’s Group Director for Engagement, Sandhya Devanathan, Facebook Singapore Country Director, and Mr Seah Hwee Kia, Chairman of the People’s Association’s Active Ageing Council
Participants and guests at today’s We Think Digital launch event at Facebook Singapore
We Think Digital builds on our work developing safety resources over the past decade, including our Safety Center, Bullying Prevention Hub, Parents Portal, and Youth Portal. It responds to the evolution of the concept of digital literacy: from the skills needed to search for information online to connecting and engaging with a global community not defined by geography or by shared cultural understanding.