It’s been almost fifteen years since Mark Prensky coined the term “digital native” to describe young people who have grown up with the Internet and digital media. In fact, the children who were born the year Prensky’s book was published are now in high school. While for many, the public perception of young people taking to digital platforms like ducks to water persists – accompanied by the image of adults, particularly parents, who are seen (often by themselves) as hopelessly out of their depth – the question remains how close that image is to reality. Are Canadian youth truly digitally literate? And if they are not “digital natives” who effortlessly acquire their skills on their own or from peers, are students learning what they need from their parents or teachers?

We generally think of our kids’ online and offline lives as being two separate things. In reality, they constantly overlap, flowing back and forth face-to-face in the schoolyard and through texts and social networks at home. But on the Internet there are lots of moral and ethical choices that don’t have to be made offline.

Teaching Your Children Safe Surfing Habits

Kids love going online for learning, socializing and having fun, but there are many things in cyberspace that they may not be ready for. The following tips will help keep your kids from running into trouble online.

Stay on the Path Lesson Three: Treasure Maps

This four-lesson unit on search skills and critical thinking teaches students how to target and specify their online searches to avoid unwanted results, how to judge whether a link, search result or website is legitimate or phony, and how to find legitimate sources online for media works such as music, videos and movies. In this lesson, students apply what they have learned in the first two lessons to find and verify information online.

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Promoting Ethical Online Behaviours with Your Kids

Most kids live as much of their lives online as they do offline. But on the Internet there are lots of moral and ethical choices that don’t have to be made offline. These tips lay out ways you can help your children develop a moral compass to guide them through those choices.

Getting the Goods Ethically

One of the most common ethical decisions kids face online relates to how they access and use content like music, games and videos. We can help kids make better choices by teaching them about the issue: in one study, one-quarter of young people said that they would stop accessing content illegally if it was more clear what was legal and what wasn’t.

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

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