In its early days, the internet was often spoken of as a free marketplace of ideas, where everyone’s views and thoughts could be shared and compete on an equal footing. Today it’s an essential tool for accessing information and services, but its value as a vehicle of civic engagement and debate has in many ways declined.
Most kids see hate and prejudice online, and most of them say it’s important to do something about it. But whether you’ve seen a video that’s full of racist conspiracy theories or have just seen a friend share an offensive meme, it can be hard to know what to do about it.
A Guide for Trusted Adults is based on YWCA’s consultation with Canadian girls and young women about their concerns and the issues they face online and on social media platforms and the ways they want the adults in their lives to support them.
Along with images of natural disasters and violence, one all-too-common news item that can be distressing to kids is reports of hate crimes. Seeing or hearing about hate-motivated assaults and vandalism of homes, cemeteries and places of worship in media, can lead to fear and anxiety in young people, especially if they belong to a vulnerable group. In many cases, the effect will be worse because news isn’t the only place Canadian kids see hate and racism: almost half see hateful content online at least once a month, and one in six sees it every day.
Allies and Aliens, an interactive module for students in Grades 7 and 8, aims to teach students the basics about bias, stereotyping and hate on the Internet and in other media. It also touches on the importance of authenticating information.
The last few weeks have shed an unprecedented light on the use of digital media to spread and inspire hatred. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the perpetrator in the attacks on Canada’s National War Memorial and Parliament buildings, appears to have been motivated in part by exposure to online postings by a self-described member of the Islamic state, and the Federal government has already stated that it intends to create tools to remove online content that promotes the “proliferation of terrorism.”
In e-Parenting Tutorial: Keeping up with your kids’ online activities, Alice, a witty and cyber-savvy mom, takes parents on a tour of the many different Web environments and activities that are popular with children and youth.