How big a problem is cyberbullying? To judge by media coverage, which frequently focuses on the most sensational and extreme cases, it’s an epidemic, and schools and legislators have often responded with heavy-handed measures. Students, on the other hand, are more likely to say that cyberbullying is less of an issue than adults perceive it to be – though even they, in many cases, overestimate how common it actually is. MediaSmarts’ report Cyberbullying: Dealing with Online Meanness, Cruelty and Threats, the third in a series of reports based on data from our Young Canadians in a Wired World survey, suggests that so far as Canadian youth are concerned the answer is somewhere in between, presenting a portrait of online conflict that demands more nuanced, contextualized and evidence-based responses.

When I was growing up, the issue of privacy was limited to eavesdropping on phone calls and making sure the key to my diary was well hidden. As a parent raising kids in a media age, the word has taken on a whole new meaning. I think that as a family of active netizens, it’s imperative that we - and our kids - understand the issues surrounding online privacy.

February 11 is Safer Internet Day (#SID2014), an annual international event organized by InSafe to help promote safer and more responsible use of online technologies, especially by young people.

To mark Safer Internet Day on February 11, we’ll be joining TELUS in a live webinar discussion of our Young Canadians in a Wired World research. Focusing on our first report, Life Online, our Director of Education, Matthew Johnson, will look at how the online behaviors and attitudes of young Canadians have changed over the past 10 years and what we can do to help keep our kids safe online.

I had a really interesting conversation with my 14-year-old daughter recently. She was wondering why so many adults assume that teenagers are all the same: a bunch of lazy, self-involved jokers who are glued to their devices all day. I didn’t have an answer for her, really, only that people tend to generalize, and that this is Never a Good Thing, no matter who it is we’re talking about.

It goes without saying that eight years is a long time on the Internet. Between 2005, when MediaSmarts published Phase II of our Young Canadians in a Wired World research, and 2013, when we conducted the national student survey for Phase III, the Internet changed almost beyond recognition: online video, once slow and buggy, became one of the most popular activities on the Web, while social networking became nearly universal among both youth and adults. Young people’s online experiences have changed as well, so we surveyed 5,436 Canadian students in grades 4 through 11, in classrooms in every province and territory, to find out how.

With the launch of the Xbox One in November, 2013 has finally finished giving birth to the newest generation of video game consoles. Wii U, PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One are sure to be on many children’s wish lists for the holidays this year, but these new consoles are anything but child’s play. Far from being simple machines for playing video games, these new consoles are more connected to the Internet than ever and have lots of new social features.

The theme of this year’s Media Literacy Week, “What’s Being Sold: Helping Kids Make Sense of Marketing Messages” is one I personally feel strongly about. After all, I’ve spent my entire career working in all aspects of marketing and communications. At the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), I’m responsible for the department filled with people who are experts in advertising and communications, social media and public relations.

There has been a lot of discussion in the past couple years among scientists, the public health community and the media about the impact of smoking and tobacco images in movies.

Snapchat, the mobile app that lets users send “self-destructing” photos, has the distinction of being the only digital tool that does not have a single redeeming feature. While the moral panic associated with blogs, cell phones, social networks and online games has largely faded in grudging recognition of their more positive uses (indeed, research shows that many parents have actually helped their children lie about their age register for Facebook accounts), Snapchat is seen as the Q-tip of the digital age: its sole function is to do the thing that you’re warned not to do on the box.

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