There are two main strategies for addressing online hate and cultures of hatred in the classroom: teaching youth to recognize and deconstruct it, and empowering them to intervene by answering back to it.
It’s tempting for parents to act authoritatively and lay down the law on the number of hours their kids can spend on the computer. But in order to effectively address excessive use, there needs to be an active, voluntary commitment on the part of the young person to control their behaviour. Otherwise, kids will just find ways to work around their parents – and be left to their own devices once they’re old enough to leave the house.
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.
Media speaks volumes about what is important in a society. George Gerbner of Temple University discusses how portrayals in media can affect how children see themselves and others: he argues that if you are over-represented, you see yourself as having many opportunities and choices while if you’re under-represented, you see yourself as having the opposite.
Much in the same way that visible minorities are under- or misrepresented in news media, visible minorities are not accurately portrayed in entertainment media, which tends to reinforce themes that are conveyed in the news. In Canada, these inaccurate representations are often the result of economic factors that affect which forms of media are broadcast and the types of portrayals they include. Although positive change is occurring, it is important that Canadian media content more accurately and fairly reflect the reality of Canadian multiculturalism.
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?
Framed around key concepts of media literacy, the That’s Not Me tutorial examines how entertainment and news media represent diversity and the impact these media portrayals can have on the value we place on individuals and groups in society. The tutorial explores how the media industry is changing to better reflect Canadian society and provides strategies for challenging negative representations and engaging young people in advocating for more realistic and positive media portrayals.