MediaSmarts Blog

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Today is Safer Internet Day, an annual international event sponsored by Insafe to promote a safer Internet for children. Recent research on Internet life has shown that the greatest threat to kids online comes from kids themselves, both in the form of risky behaviour and online harassment, or cyber bullying. Cyber bullying can take forms such as harassing e-mails or text messages, social exclusion and spreading private photos and videos, among others, and presents a particular challenge for parents and teachers because it often happens outside the home or classroom. Because the Internet has become an essential part of kids’ social lives, cyber bullying can also have more devastating effects as youth feel they have no escape.

With a half million visitors in the average month, MNet’s Web site is the public face of our organization. As in past years, we’ve seen some parts of the site increase in traffic while others remain consistently popular.

February 10th is Safer Internet Day, an event sponsored by Insafe to promote safe and responsible online behaviour. As the Internet becomes a more and more central part of our lives, we are coming to a better understanding of just what risks and opportunities it provides. We are learning, for instance, that youth are less likely to be victimized by adult strangers than by other youth, whether it is in the form of sexual solicitation or online harassment: a recent study by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, prepared for the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States, supports other recent research in finding that it is the particular behaviours that some youth consciously engage in that place them at risk – and that not all youth are equally at risk.

As media outlets continue to close and advertising budgets shrink, the once-mighty Super Bowl is receiving much less buzz than usual. A number of major advertisers, such as Federal Express and troubled automaker General Motors, have decided not to run Super Bowl ads at all this year. Another January event, though, is attracting a surprising amount of media attention: the U.S. presidential inauguration.

With all the recent attention focused on stories of teenagers charged with distributing child pornography for taking sexually suggestive pictures of themselves, jobs lost due to Facebook and MySpace entries, and libel suits over blog posts, people are justifiably concerned about the permanence of material posted to the Internet. Many a teacher or parent has had to carefully explain to children or teens that whatever they post online might be seen by people other than the intended audience, and might be out there for a very long time.

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