As we consume the troubling news of the past few weeks, we have all seen that there are so many issues we’re dealing with in our digital world that have real life impacts: the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories, the proliferation of racist stereotypes, online hate and prejudice, and the attacks on journalists and freedom of the press.
Meet Sasha. At age 8, she’s a real social butterfly, both online and off, and is very concerned with how the world sees her: she spends a lot of time making sure she looks good in photos online but doesn’t always think twice about who might see them. Violet is Sasha’s older sister and her polar opposite: she’s a hardcore gamer, and just as tough as her Level 65 Barbarian. Though she despairs of her sister sometimes, she’s also fiercely protective of her and will unleash her considerable wrath on anyone she thinks is picking on Sasha.
Cyber Choices is an interactive game designed to help students in grades 3 to 5 develop the skills and habits they need to make safe and responsible choices online. Cyber Choices lets students explore four different stories that cover key issues such as making good choices about their own and others’ personal information, dealing with cyberbullying (as both a target and a witness) and managing online conflict.
Parents could be forgiven for thinking that our children are born media literate. They are mediatized, certainly, even before they are born: it’s a rare baby shower that doesn’t feature Elsa or Elmo in one form or another. As for digital literacy, kids take to devices like the proverbial ducks to water, quickly becoming expert at finding the videos and games they want.
MediaSmarts’ research has shown that kids with rules in the home about tech use are less likely to do things like post their contact information, visit gambling or pornography sites and talk to strangers online. Having a family agreement or set of rules for using devices is also a great way for parents and kids to work together on how to be safe, wise and responsible online.
My daughter – age 14 – is all about Instagram. It’s her primary source of entertainment: if she’s on her phone, she’s likely looking at memes or laughing at silly posts made by her friends. It’s also the main way she communicates with them, as they use its messaging service much more than things like texting or video chat.