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.
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?
Are you concerned about your kids seeing hate in the news or online? Check out our new tip sheet.
Talking to Kids About Hate in Media - Tip Sheet
Along with images of natural disasters and violence, one all-too-common news item that can be distressing to kids is reports of hate crimes. Seeing or hearing about hate-motivated assaults and vandalism of homes, cemeteries and places of worship in media, can lead to fear and anxiety in young people, especially if they belong to a vulnerable group. In many cases, the effect will be worse because news isn’t the only place Canadian kids see hate and racism: almost half see hateful content online at least once a month, and one in six sees it every day.
MediaSmarts has created a suite of resources for youth, parents, and teachers with practical tools for effective intervening in cyberbullying situations. The program was funded by TELUS. Explore Impact!
In this lesson, students discuss reasons why they might be reluctant to intervene when they witness cyberbullying and identify ways that they can help without making things worse. They then use the interactive tool Impact! How to Make a Difference When You Witness Bullying Online to help them decide how to navigate scenarios relating to being a witness to bullying, and share their experiences to help them understand how important it is to think carefully before you act.
MediaSmarts has created two new videos for parents on talking to kids about social media use and issues that can arise; identifying potential safety risks; and establishing good house rules for social media.