I am currently Faculty Early Career Award Fellow at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. My research focuses on understanding how social and technological environments shape the health and well-being of individuals. Currently, I am working on a number of research projects related to media use among children and youths and how it affects their well-being, parent-child communication and dietary preferences among children, as well as technological affordances for health. One major project I am working on right now is the collection and analysis of young people’s screenomes in Singapore, and identifying how different strains of media use affect youth well-being. A second major project I am working on is in understanding what constitutes high- versus low-quality digital media use for preschoolers.
PhD in Communication, 2019
Nanyang Technological University
BA in Communication, 2014
Nanyang Technological University
These research projects aim to understand how media use and consumption affect children and adolescents’ health and well-being.
In this project, I identify the features and theoretical processes behind effective parenting strategies in encouraging healthier food consumption among children.
Through a series of 4 studies (focus group discussions involving social media users and 3 nationally representative online surveys) conducted in Singapore, we identify 4 types of competencies in which social media literacy can manifest: technical, social, privacy related, and informational. Using a sequential, exploratory mixed-methods approach, we first identified literacy events and practices that were grounded in social media users’ actual experiences through a series of focus group discussions. Then, based on the qualitative results, we developed and tested a perceived social media literacy (PSML) scale through a series of 3 national online surveys, where we found disparities in PSML based on socioeconomic factors.
An international study in 42 countries inquired children’s perception of the coronacrisis, their knowledge on COVID-19 and the role the media play in this.
Parents are important sources of influence in the development of healthy eating among children and adolescents. Besides gatekeeping and modeling, parents serve as health educators and promoters, using intentional and persuasive communication to encourage healthier eating preferences and behaviors in children. Despite this, a lack of reliable and valid measures has limited the research on how parent-driven interpersonal communication about foods influence child food consumption outcomes. Building on the research in parental mediation of media consumption, and parenting practices in public health nutrition, this study details the development and validation of the active and restrictive parental guidance questionnaire with a sample of 246 children and adolescents at the scale development phase and another sample of 1,113 children and adolescents at the scale validation phase. Findings show that parents employ four communicative strategies to encourage a healthier diet: active guidance, general discussion, preventive restrictive guidance, and promotive restrictive guidance. The new measure was shown to have good validity and measurement model fit. Implications for future research are discussed.
In this op-ed, my co-author Jeremy Sng and I discuss how video games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons can satisfy important psychological needs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As Covid-19 brings the world to a standstill, my co-author Lim Sun Sun and I wrote an op-ed that discusses how screen time for children should not be viewed solely from a homogenous time-based perspective, but rather, in a way that takes into account the content and context of media use.
The rapidly increasing volume of health data generated from digital technologies have ushered in an unprecedented opportunity for health research. Despite their promises, big data approaches in understanding human behavior often do not consider conceptual premises that provide meaning to social and behavioral data. In this paper, we update the definition of big data, and review different types and sources of health data that researchers need to grapple with. We highlight three problems in big data approaches—data deluge, data hubris, and data opacity—that are associated with the blind use of computational analysis. Finally, we lay out the importance of cultivating health data sense-making—the ability to integrate theory-led and data-driven approaches to process different types of health data and translating findings into tangible health outcomes—and illustrate how theorizing can matter in the age of big data.
Numerous studies have highlighted the undesirable effects of food advertising on children across the world. However, very few researchers have looked at the impact of food advertising restrictions on the targeted outcomes of these policies. This paper presents three studies that assessed the impact of child food advertising restrictions in Singapore. The studies include (1) a content analysis of television advertisements, (2) a door-to-door household pantry survey of families, and (3) a large-scale survey of school children. Results indicate that the amount of unhealthy food advertising has declined since the policy implementation, children’s cognition about fast- food have shifted desirably, household stocks of a number of unhealthy foods have decreased slightly, and children’s self-reported consumption of unhealthy foods has decreased slightly. Age and gender effects were found, where older children, and girls, show larger differences. Implications for policy and future research are discussed.
The study of parenting practices on child food consumption has often been characterized as having great utility but lacking in theory. In contrast, the theory of planned behavior (TPB) has often been suggested to be limited in its utility. To address these gaps, interpersonal constructs – the concepts of active parental guidance (e.g., nutrition education) and restrictive parental guidance (e.g., rule-setting) – were integrated as antecedents to the original TPB variables in predicting child fruits and vegetables (FV) consumption. We surveyed 210 child/adolescent participants, aged between 10 and 16 in Singapore. Results from structural equation modeling showed that the integrative TPB model displayed an acceptable fit. Parental active guidance was associated with all three proximal predictors of behavior. Our results suggest that there are promising contributions to the theory of planned behavior in predicting child food consumption behavior by considering interpersonal antecedents.
Background: The family is an important social context where children learn and adopt eating behaviors. Specifically, parents play the role of health promoters, role models, and educators in the lives of children, influencing their food cognitions and choices. This study attempts to systematically review empirical studies examining the influence of parents on child food consumption behavior in two contexts: one promotive in nature (e.g., healthy food), and the other preventive in nature (e.g., unhealthy food).
Method: From a total of 6,448 titles extracted from Web of Science, ERIC, PsycINFO and PubMED, seventy eight studies met the inclusion criteria for a systematic review, while thirty seven articles contained requisite statistical information for meta-analysis. The parental variables extracted include active guidance/education, restrictive guidance/rule-making, availability, accessibility, modeling, pressure to eat, rewarding food consumption, rewarding with verbal praise, and using food as reward. The food consumption behaviors examined include fruits and vegetables consumption, sugar-sweetened beverages, and snack consumption.
Results: Results indicate that availability (Healthy: r = .24, p < .001; Unhealthy: r = .34, p < .001) and parental modeling effects (Healthy: r = .32, p < .001; Unhealthy: r = .35, p < .001) show the strongest associations with both healthy and unhealthy food consumption. In addition, the efficacy of some parenting practices might be dependent on the food consumption context and the age of the child. For healthy foods, active guidance/ education might be more effective (r = .15, p < .001). For unhealthy foods, restrictive guidance/rule-making might be more effective (r = −.11, p < .01). For children 7 and older, restrictive guidance/rule-making could be more effective in preventing unhealthy eating (r = − .20, p < .05). For children 6 and younger, rewarding with verbal praise can be more effective in promoting healthy eating (r = .26, p < .001) and in preventing unhealthy eating (r = − .08, p < .01).
Conclusion: This study illustrates that a number of parental behaviors are strong correlates of child food consumption behavior. More importantly, this study highlights 3 main areas in parental influence of child food consumption that are understudied: (1) active guidance/education, (2) psychosocial mediators, and (3) moderating influence of general parenting styles.