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.
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.
My two oldest kids started grades 10 and 11 in September. As usual, they took their smartphones with them the first day.
When they arrived home, I asked them how their classes had went, and they said that every single class had talked about the Ontario government’s new policy about cell phones in school – that is, that cell phones are to be used only for educational purposes, or health or special needs, during class time.
I am lucky enough to work from home and have a flexible work schedule, so my kids have always been stay-at-home kids in the summer. They have some daily chores and other special work to do over the summer, but in general they have a lot of free time on their hands.
I read an interesting Facebook post the other day, written by a teenaged girl. She said quite firmly that it was important for parents to not have their children’s passwords, for their phone or social media accounts. She talked about building trust and how insisting on knowing your kids’ passwords is the first step to them sneaking around online and getting involved in things you wish they wouldn’t.
I admit I was hoping to never get an email like this from the school:
“Some students in your child’s class have been involved in inappropriate online behaviour. Our Student Resource Officer will be doing a presentation on cyberbullying and leading a discussion about responsible actions on the internet. Please speak to your child about his/her activity online.”
A Day in the Life of the Jos is a comprehensive digital citizenship tutorial that prepares students in grades six to eight to deal with all of the issues they face when using digital technology – from online privacy, to cyberbullying, to recognizing what’s real and what’s fake online.
In the educational game A Day in the Life of the Jos (Licensed Resource), students in grades six to eight help the brother and sister team Jo and Josie with situations they encounter online as they go about a typical day in their lives.
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.