Guest post by Amil Niazi, cultural critic, writer and showrunner for CBC’s Pop Chat.

This is a transcript of a presentation by Amil Niazi on October 28, 2021 as part of MediaSmarts Presents The Walrus Talks: Our Digital Lives (a Media Literacy Week event).

Talking to kids about casual prejudice online

That’s why it’s important to talk to kids about casual prejudice which is the use of words or phrases that are negative towards a particular group - and help them learn how to push back in situations where they’re not sure if the person meant to be hurtful.

Here are some tips on how to help your kids respond to casual prejudice online:

Just a joke? Helping youth respond to casual prejudice

One of the barriers to youth pushing back against prejudice is not wanting to over-react, particularly if they feel their peers were just ‘joking around.’ Humour, however, can often be a cover for intentional bullying and prejudice. In this lesson, students analyze media representations of relational aggression, such as sarcasm and put-down humour, then consider the ways in which digital communication may make it harder to recognize irony or satire and easier to hurt someone’s feelings without knowing it. Students then consider how humour may be used to excuse prejudice and discuss ways of responding to it.

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Managing tech at home during the holidays

Family guidelines for new tech devices 

“We used (this) contract in our home when my son got his first smartphone… it’s a great resource.” - Kim Schiffman, editor-in-chief at Today’s Parent 

Break the Fake: Make Your Own Custom Search Engine

To make a custom search engine you will need to be logged in to a Google account. (If you don’t already have one, go to accounts.google.com to sign up.)  You don’t have to be logged in to Google to use it. As well, anyone can use a custom search engine once it’s been created, so a whole class can use search engines made with a single account.

If you have children who have access to a phone and the ability to text, you may be venturing into a completely new area of communication with them. Have you noticed emoji replies? Or abbreviated statements? GIF-only responses or memes that you have to Google to understand? You aren’t alone.

So what should parents make of this?  

Matthew JohnsonThey say the future comes when you aren’t looking. This Media Literacy Week, we are reflecting on how the pandemic has changed how we interact with media and each other. Certainly a few years ago, not many of us could have imagined we’d be spending a fair portion of our lives doing video chats, which were considered obsolete and mostly reserved for keeping in touch with friends and family far away.

Calling Out versus Calling In: Helping youth respond to casual prejudice online

Youth are often reluctant to “call out” their friends or peers who say or do prejudiced things online because they’re afraid that others might get mad at them or because they’re not sure if the person intended to be prejudiced. Putting someone on the spot for something they’ve said or done is more likely to make them feel guilty or angry and not likely to change their mind around the impact of their actions, and it can also make the situation about the person who’s “calling out” instead of what the other person said or did.

This lesson introduces students to the idea of “calling in” – reaching out to someone privately with the assumption that they didn’t mean to do any harm – and explores how this idea can be applied both to casual prejudice online and when responding to stereotyping and other negative representations in media. Finally, students explore the different benefits of “calling out” and “calling in”, and consider when the two strategies would be most appropriate.

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Communicating Safely Online: Tip Sheet for Youth

a. Types of Unhealthy Online Relationships

Exploitation: Some people use digital media to get teenagers involved in relationships they’re not ready for. They do this by finding someone who is vulnerable and then showering them with attention, sympathy, affection and kindness, all to persuade the victim that they love and understand them.

Lynn JataniaOur youngest is about to turn 14, and that means it’s time for the last member of our family to get her own cell phone.

We decided back when our oldest was heading off to high school that age 14, Grade 9, is cell phone time for our family. We’ve been happy with that decision – it seemed like the right time in terms of maturity, and also it became clear that having a phone to use in class at high school was beneficial and even expected.

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