One of the biggest concerns voiced by parents of young Internet users is the easy access to pornography that the Web provides. There are millions of porn sites online, making hardcore sexual images that were once very difficult to obtain now just a click away.
Given the high likelihood that youth are going to come across or seek out online pornography at one point or another, not to mention the many messages they receive about sex through other media, it is important that parents take an active role in their kids’ Internet use and start talking to them about healthy relationships and sexuality at early ages to help them contextualize and make decisions about what they’re seeing online.
In e-Parenting Tutorial: Keeping up with your kids’ online activities, Alice, a witty and cyber-savvy mom, takes parents on a tour of the many different Web environments and activities that are popular with children and youth.
Schools are fully aware that the Internet is a treasure trove of knowledge and don’t hesitate to recommend it for research. According to a 2008 study, 77 per cent of teachers assign work involving the use of the Internet. Unfortunately, school curriculums rarely include teaching how to do research on the Web, so parents need to learn the skills for guiding their children as they go online for school assignments.
Most of us turn to online sources for news, whether it’s reading a newspaper online or sharing a news story with our friends and family. But news stories are one of the hardest things to verify: sometimes early reports that turn out not to be true still circulate on social media and people may spread false reports for political or commercial reasons, or just for “fun.”
If a news consumer reads a headline from The Globe and Mail while searching Google News, is the story from Google or The Globe? What about if a friend posts the story on Facebook; is the story from the friend, Facebook, or The Globe? How can the complexities of what is meant by “source” in a converged news environment be accounted for?
The changes in how news is consumed (and produced) have also made it harder to verify if a particular news item is accurate – and made it easier for misinformation to be spread, either intentionally or unintentionally.
“Be skeptical, not cynical.” Lori Robertson, managing editor of Factcheck.org
While it’s important to be skeptical of political news, especially during an election, it’s also important to be able to recognize and dismiss outright disinformation: the deliberate spreading of false or misleading information. The content of political disinformation spans a wide spectrum, from stories that might be credible (such as an endorsement of a politician from a surprising source) to those that are utterly unbelievable (such as the accusation that a candidate for national office is involved in a child-exploitation ring housed in the basement of a pizza parlour). Those spreading disinformation can include governments, political activists and even for-profit publishers (some of whom run multiple disinformation operations that cater to different parts of the political spectrum).
This section will explore how to read election and political news critically, how to recognize misinformation (information that is incorrect) and disinformation (the deliberate spreading of false or misleading information), and how to be a more active and engaged consumer of political news.