Originally published on CBC Parents.

Le père Noel ne sera peut-être pas le seul cette année à savoir si vos enfants ont été sages ou s’ils dorment bel et bien lorsqu’il passe : une des grandes tendances cette année est les soi-disant « jouets intelligents » qui se servent d’Internet pour avoir des conversations intelligentes avec les enfants lorsqu’ils jouent avec ceux-ci.

This year, it may not just be Santa Claus who sees your kids when they’re sleeping and knows when they’re awake: one of the hottest trends this season is so-called “smart toys”, which use the Internet to hold artificially intelligent conversations with kids while they play. Last year’s Hello Barbie, one of the first to use this technology, was found to have a number of major security flaws – including automatically connecting the mobile device to which it was tethered to any Wi-Fi network with “Barbie” in its name. Now two more toys, a doll called My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Intelligent Robot, have been found to collect data in ways that are far more worrying. 

En 2015, HabiloMédias et PREVNet ont mené une étude (financée par TELUS) auprès d’élèves canadiens afin de savoir comment offrir aux jeunes de meilleurs conseils et un meilleur soutien lorsqu’ils sont témoins de cyberintimidation. Cette recherche, intitulée Les expériences de la cyberintimidation des jeunes Canadiens, visait à découvrir trois choses : quels sont les obstacles à l’intervention des témoins de la cyberintimidation, quelles sont les mesures incitatives qui augmenteraient la probabilité d’intervention, et quelles interventions sont plus ou moins susceptibles d’avoir des répercussions positives.

In 2015, MediaSmarts and PREVNet conducted a study of Canadian students – funded by TELUS – to find out how to give youth better advice and support when they witness cyberbullying. That research, Young Canadians’ Experiences with Online Bullying, aimed to discover three things: what are the barriers to witness intervention in cyberbullying? What incentives can increase the likelihood of witness intervention? And which interventions are more or less likely to have a positive outcome?

In ancient times the Olympics were a time when all nations – all Greek nations, anyway – would put away their differences and compete in almost every human activity, from poetry to the ferocious no-rules wrestling event called pankration. Being the very best that humans could be was seen as the best way to honour the gods of Olympus. Though we’ve dropped the poetry and the blood sports, people watching the swimming or volleyball events might wonder if we’re on the way to bringing back the ancient tradition of competing in the nude. Revealing outfits – like those designed by Lululemon for the Canadian beach volleyball team – may be practical for those events, but they also shine a light on how dressing for sports can make us feel about ourselves. After all, it’s hard to feel good about your own body when you’ve just spent an hour watching the most perfect physiques in the world nearly naked.

Over the last week our world has been invaded: cute cartoon creatures can now be found lurking in parks, restaurants, museums, and even people’s houses. If you haven’t seen them, it’s because they’re only visible on a smartphone screen, and only if you’re playing the new game “Pokémon Go”.

Depuis plus de 25 ans, les enseignants canadiens encouragent les élèves à aller en ligne et les préparent à utiliser Internet de façon sécuritaire, intelligente et responsable. Grâce au programme Rescol des années 1990, de nombreux jeunes canadiens ont eu leurs premières expériences des technologies réseautées dans les classes et les bibliothèques des écoles. 

For more than twenty-five years, Canadian teachers have been at the forefront of getting students online and preparing them to use the Internet in safe, wise and responsible ways. Thanks to the SchoolNet program in the 1990s, many young Canadians had their first experiences with networked technologies in their classrooms and school libraries. However, MediaSmarts’ recent Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III study shows that even now, our so-called “digital natives” still need guidance from their teachers.

Despite their enthusiastic participation in social media, it’s a mistake to think that young people don’t care about privacy. MediaSmarts’ 2014 study Young Canadians in a Wired World, which surveyed over 5,000 students across Canada on their experiences with and attitudes towards digital media, found that they do have very strong feelings about their privacy, and take significant steps to control it.

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