From Cyber Addict to PSLE Top Scorer
At just 11, Xuan’s* entire world was virtual.
The Primary 5 student wanted to become a Korean pop idol and refused to go to school, choosing instead to spend her time on the Internet, perfecting her tunes and her moves.
She was unable to relate to schoolmates, and shunned face-to-face contact, preferring the virtual friends she made through social networking site Facebook. They seemed to have similar interests and dreams, and she never had to meet them in person.
She was a cyber addict – and her parents did not know what to do.
Eventually, her father approached Family Service Centre (Yishun) for help. The Centre’s counsellor, Ms Yuyu Kow, was told about Xuan’s unsupervised and excessive Internet use.
Together, Ms Kow and Xuan discussed Xuan’s goal of becoming a pop idol, her reasons for not attending school, and her plans for the future. Ms Kow used role playing, simulating possible scenarios at school, to prepare Xuan for returning to regular classes.
Xuan was also referred to the REACH (Response, Early Intervention and Assesment in Community Mental Health) programme, and then to the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS), where, over the next year, she learned to manage both her addiction and her issues with her family.
That was in October 2012. One year and two months later, Xuan returned to school to complete her Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE). To support her, the Allied Educators in Xuan’s school, working with Ms Kow, helped to find her a buddy and a peer support group.
Slowly, she made real friends and discovered the joys the real world had to offer, like art. She was given a chance to paint murals in her school, and her creation of sunflowers was even selected as the design for the cover of the school notebook.
She also became more motivated to study, and her PSLE results showed how far she had come – she was top student of her school.
The staff members of Family Service Centre (Yishun) who worked with Xuan could not be prouder, said Ms Koh Wah Khoon, Senior Director of the Centre. “Xuan deserves to be recognised for the amount of effort she put into turning her life around.”
Special credit also goes to Ms Kow, the Centre’s community partners and Xuan’s family, she added.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the child.