Lots of times kids will say they’re not bullying, they’re ‘just joking’ – in fact, it’s the number one reason for being mean online. Other times, people will play down how serious the situation really is.

Before you react, ask yourself:

  • Am I letting things go because I'm worried about making things worse for the person being targeted? Some things we do when we witness cyberbullying – even when we're trying to help – can make things worse, so it’s always a good idea to step back and think about the situation before jumping in. 
  • Am I letting things go because I don't like the target? It can be hard to feel bad for someone we don't like.

September 22 is Character Day, an international day that fosters a conversation around developing character strengths (resilience, grit, empathy, courage, kindness) – all rooted in evidence-based research. We’d like to share some resources that can help youth think about, and develop, their character.

For more than a decade, MediaSmarts has been a leader in defining digital literacy in Canada. This is reflected in the elementary digital literacy framework we launched in 2015. The Use, Understand & Create framework is based on a holistic approach which recognizes that the different skills that make up digital literacy cannot be fully separated. 

In this lesson, students reflect on the ways in which digital media can cause stress. Through a series of role-playing exercises, they consider how social media can cause stress by making us compare the highlights of others' lives to the lowlights of our own, and practice strategies for coping with digital stress.

This lesson asks students, in groups, to take their issue and solution to the streets. In order to enact real change through action for the benefit of the larger community, each chosen topic will need to be exposed to and understood by other members of the community. In this lesson, students will design a community outreach promotional campaign in order to effect real change that matters to them. If the students have completed the Digital Storytelling for Community Engagement lesson and have created their own Digital Story, this digital project can be used as the starting point/product with which to share with others. If not, groups of students can create a hypothetical solution to an existing problem, which then could be disseminated to the larger community using their designed outreach strategy. 

In this lesson, students learn that their online presence is like a resume that can help them – or hurt them – in their future personal and professional lives. The lesson begins by having students do a self-appraisal of their online resume. Students will review steps for limiting the negative impact of things they’ve posted online. Students then think about people whom they consider to be heroes or role models, identify the characteristics that make them admire these people, and discuss what those people did in order to be seen so positively. Finally, students learn tools and strategies for consciously building a positive online brand and develop a communications plan for doing so.

In this lesson, students use mind maps to explore concepts of “respect” and “consent” in an online context. They consider a wide range of scenarios that shed light on different aspects of consent relating to digital media and draw on those to create a detailed definition. Finally, students create an “explainer” video in which they illustrate one of the aspects of consent.

In this lesson, students read an interactive online comic that teaches them key concepts and skills relating to three cybersecurity topics: malware, passwords and privacy from geotracking devices. Following this, students research their own cybersecurity topics and learn how non-fiction comics are made in order to create their own Secure Comic.

Students often feel detached from the political arena, and this lesson plan we have designed is to help inspire curiosity and action with your secondary students due to the very real connection between early civic engagement and citizens that are active and engaged with politics for their lifetime.

Students are introduced to civic education through a series of activities which will ask them to work together to engage with their larger communities through curiosity, conversation and creation. Current events happening at the neighbourhood, municipal or federal level will act as starting points for each activity.