Our older two teens are close to finishing high school, and we’re starting to think about moving them into the adult phase of their lives. That means managing their own online presence and technology, and making sure they have full ownership of their profiles.
The other day I was on the phone with my sister – our land line, not a cell phone – and I said to her, “You’re my person.” This is a well-known phrase from the TV show Grey’s Anatomy; Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang used to say it to each other to cement the closeness of their friendship.
Digital literacy is a vital tool for education, employment and economic participation, civic engagement, and even health and wellness. It reinforces existing inequalities based on socioeconomic status, ethnicity, education, immigration status and gender. Given the importance of digital literacy skills to under-represented populations, MediaSmarts and YWCA Canada have partnered to develop and deliver DigitalSmarts, a digital literacy skills program.
Recently, my nephew, age 12, received a letter in the mail. It was addressed to him personally, by name. Inside was a photocopied article about the powers of a new virility medicine, complete with the usual graphic promises for pleasuring the ladies. The article mentioned a specific “doctor” by name, but other than that, there was no contact information or order form or any other action request. It appeared to just be spam but in paper form.
It’s because I rely on them to play secretary for me when I’m driving. If the phone rings or there is a bing of a text, 99% of the time it’s a member of my immediate family trying to get in touch with something relatively pressing.
When we bought a cellphone for our son, we worried. We worried about how it would affect his brain to be hooked into social media all the time. We worried about online bullying and if he’d be respectful and responsible. We worried that he’d become a video screen monster who never looked up and only grunted in response to our questions about his day at the dinner table.
This year, it may not just be Santa Claus who sees your kids when they’re sleeping and knows when they’re awake: one of the hottest trends this season is so-called “smart toys”, which use the Internet to hold artificially intelligent conversations with kids while they play. Last year’s Hello Barbie, one of the first to use this technology, was found to have a number of major security flaws – including automatically connecting the mobile device to which it was tethered to any Wi-Fi network with “Barbie” in its name. Now two more toys, a doll called My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Intelligent Robot, have been found to collect data in ways that are far more worrying.
In this lesson, students read an interactive online comic that teaches them key concepts and skills relating to three cybersecurity topics: malware, passwords and privacy from geotracking devices. Following this, students research their own cybersecurity topics and learn how non-fiction comics are made in order to create their own Secure Comic.