One of the challenges of being a parent in a digital age is (a) keeping up with all the new tools and websites and social media channels our kids may or may not be using and (b) keeping track of new developments and updates within existing tools. Honestly, sometimes it feels like I’m trapped inside a 21st century hamster wheel!

Whether it’s to prepare for the future job market or just to manage the lives they already lead online, young Canadians need to be digitally literate. But what exactly is digital literacy, and how can we ensure that all Canadian youth are learning the digital skills they need?

On February 25, we’ll be celebrating Pink Shirt Day – a day dedicated to raising awareness around bullying, giving young people the tools they need to stand up to bullies and teaching them how to step in when they see it happening. To help you mark the day, we’ve put together a list of resources.

The last few weeks have shed an unprecedented light on the use of digital media to spread and inspire hatred. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the perpetrator in the attacks on Canada’s National War Memorial and Parliament buildings, appears to have been motivated in part by exposure to online postings by a self-described member of the Islamic state[1], and the Federal government has already stated that it intends to create tools to remove online content that promotes the “proliferation of terrorism.”[2]

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.

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