“Do you know this meme?” 

One of my kids once asked me that, many years ago, as they were discovering memes on the internet. They asked it as a simple question, but I couldn’t help but pause at their inquiry. It was a hugely popular meme – I have been online for many years, and I know many of us in my (ahem) age group use memes a lot (I’m sometimes referred to as an Xennenial, born in 1980, also called an elder millennial apparently. I think sometimes I’m considered Gen X too). We love memes! 

Screen time is a common topic for parents to try and manage today. Are we allowing too much? How do we make it safe? We will ask our friends and fellow parents for their thoughts or advice or learn tips from resources (like MediaSmarts!) to help us navigate this new aspect of parenting. When I was my kids’ age, we were just loading Netscape 2.0 onto our computers, and we’d check our ICQ messages before putting in a VHS to watch a movie or playing some Super Mario RPG.  The online world is so different now.

I have teens, but up until recently they didn’t have social media accounts (although, I suppose Discord may count as one). 

They hadn’t had much interest in the past, other than a few requests for Snapchat and Instagram that came and went almost as quickly as they were mentioned. But recently, my eldest asked again about Instagram and through conversations together it seemed like the logical time to get one.  

Studies have shown that communicating the scientific consensus on a topic can be a helpful strategy in the fight against misinformation. For example, a 2015 study found that “emphasizing the medical consensus about (childhood) vaccine safety is likely to be an effective pro-vaccine message.”

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more clear than ever that dealing with the misinformation surrounding COVID-19 requires us to come at it from every possible angle. We have needed trusted voices to provide strong, clear and sharable counter-messaging on social media.

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