Strengths-Based-Approach to Cyber Wellness
In 2015, Kingmaker Consultancy Pte. Ltd. trained five 15-year old students with StrengthsTransform™ Personal Mastery programme for 4 sessions. They completed their StrengthsFinder profile, explored how their talent themes showed up in what they do on the Internet, and explored ways to diversify for cyber-wellness. During the 1st ASEAN Strengths Education Summit (2016), the candidates were profiled for how the programme has transformed their lives.
Deficit Model of Psychology & Intervention
The five youths would have been classified as Problematic or Pathological Internet Users using existing instruments based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V). They were spending 6 to 10 hours on the Internet every day and also experiencing the following:
- Underachieving in school (albeit in comparison with high expectations in Singapore)
- Unable to control their use of computer games & Internet activities
- Sometime skipping meals & baths to use the Internet
- Having tension with parents over their behaviour
This is the deficit model of psychology in action. Develop a set of criteria for "normal functioning". Check if people fall short, and decide whether they had a problem.
Positive Psychology & Strengths-based Approach using StrengthsFinder profile
Yet when they were using StrengthsFinder profile by Gallup, it was clear that they possess unique talents and were in fact operating in a state of flow on the Internet.
FLOW: a mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity
Aaron (16 years old), would spend 7.8hrs (weekday) & 9.5hrs (weekend) on the Internet. He searches social media & websites to "stalk" people. He operates his own YouTube channel and is adept at a wide range of hacking techniques.
Addiction or Flow?
It would be a probable case of problematic Internet use one investigates using positive psychology & StrengthsFinder 2.0 profile. Aaron had an amazing curiosity to read from the Internet & remember things (StrengthsFinder profile LEARNER Theme). He carefully curated all his source of knowledge and showed us an amazing catalogue (StrengthsFinder profile INPUT Theme) of "hacking tutorials". His YouTube channel was an avenue to share much of his interesting insights (StrengthsFinder 2.0 INTELLECTION Theme).
He also learned French, German and Spanish from the Internet and was also able to memorise 300 decimal places of pi!
All of his activities were PEAK EXPERIENCES where his signature talent themes were used, resulting in a state of flow! He was not wasting his time away uncontrollably while on the Internet. rather he was engaging in the activity that will be his most direct route to success & excellence.
Strengths-Based Approach for Intervention & Transformation
It was only with a strengths-based approach using tools such as StrengthsFinder profile that Aaron was "diagnosed" to be actually operating at his best. This approach to intervention helped a young man to gain awareness of his amazing ability to learn & his talents. It affirmed his desire & dream to pursue Chemical Engineering in the future.
Many out there today may be classified unfavourably using a set of criteria for "normal functioning". Yet it is important to also examine a person noting his individual talents (strengths-based approach). Surely Aaron was a "normally exceptional" youth, just like all of us!
We at Kingmaker & StrengthsTransform™ wish Aaron a hope-filled, talent-powered future! And yes, please keep tabs with what we do on the Internet and tell others about your journey in understanding Strengths!
For more information about using StrengthsFinder profile & the StrengthsTransform™ programme to achieve personal mastery, please check our website.