They 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.
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.
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.
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.
In this lesson, students examine two websites about unlikely animals and learn how to effectively evaluate online sources. They then create a fake website that demonstrates the misleading signals that are often mistakenly taken as signs of reliability.
For nearly thirty years, Canadian teachers have been at the forefront of getting students online and preparing them to use networked technologies safely, productively and responsibly. Many young Canadians have their first experiences with the internet in their classrooms and school libraries. Over the past decade, though, while digital tools have come to provide new opportunities for creating and distributing digital content, MediaSmarts’ research shows that most Canadian teachers aren’t making media in the classroom.
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.