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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.
Level: Grades 9 to 12
About the Author: Matthew Johnson, Director of Education, MediaSmarts
Duration: 1 to 1 ½ hours, plus time for the assessment/evaluation activity
While the training workshops focus on the five key concepts of digital literacy, this implementation guide looks at the specific skill areas that MediaSmarts has identified as being essential for students to learn by the end of their secondary education: ethics and empathy, privacy and security, community engagement, digital health, consumer awareness, finding and verifying and making and remixing. The guide also addresses common challenges to integrating digital literacy into the classroom, such as limitations on available technology and classroom management concerns, and includes links to relevant MediaSmarts’ and other resources, and apps and tools for creating digital media in your classroom.
The Respecting Yourself and Others Online workshop was created to provide tweens and young teens with strategies and knowledge that will help them respect themselves, respect others and respect the space when using social media.
In this lesson students are introduced to the concept of “avatars” and share their experiences creating and playing avatars in video games and virtual worlds. They then create avatars using a program that is intentionally limited in terms of available body types and gender markers, first creating an avatar of their own gender and then of the opposite gender, and then discuss the program and relate it to representations of gender and body image in games and virtual worlds and in other media. Students then create avatars using a much more flexible version of the program and compare that experience to the more limited version. Finally, students use the more versatile program to create avatars that represent how they see themselves and how they would like others to see them online and reflect on the choices that went into creating them.
MediaSmarts asked Canadian teens attending a Digital Youth Summit what they do to make the online world better for everyone. Here’s what they said:
In this lesson, students are introduced to the idea that “hot” emotional states such as anger or excitement can make it harder for them to control how they act. They also discuss the concept of empathy and look at the ways in which digital communication can make it harder to feel empathy for other people. Students then read scenarios that portray two sides of an online conflict and consider how to resolve them, using their discussion to build a list of tools for emotional management and conflict resolution online. Finally, students create a media product that explains and reminds them of one of those tools.
In this lesson, students consider how we come to hold values and how they affect our behaviour, especially online. They begin by comparing their assumptions about how common positive and negative online behaviours are with accurate statistics, and then consider how believing that something is more or less common than it really is can affect whether or not we think it’s acceptable. The teacher then uses a fable to introduce students to the ways that values can be communicated both overtly and implicitly and students discuss the ways in which their values have been communicated to them. They then turn specifically to the online context and consider what values they have learned about online behaviour and how they learned them. Finally, students consider scenarios that examine ethical questions online and role-play ways of resolving them.
In this three-day unit, students assess media coverage of natural disasters and their aftermath. Students explore how sensationalism plays a role in determining what is newsworthy, and how that can distort our perception of issues in developing nations.
This lesson introduces students to the concept of bias or slant, in newspapers and in television newscasts.
In this lesson students are introduced to the key media literacy concept that media are constructions that re-present reality and consider how representations of crime in news and entertainment media may influence how we perceive members of particular groups.
In this lesson students consider the meaning of the words “bias” and “prejudice” and consider how bias may be found even at the level of individual words due to connotation.
To introduce students to the organizations, codes and guidelines that govern the broadcasting industry in Canada and to familiarize them with the regulatory process that exists to deal with complaints and issues within the industry.
How can we help young people develop affective empathy? The best approach depends on how old they are. Children begin to understand empathy as toddlers, but at this stage they are so completely “in the moment” that the best approach is to watch out for situations where we can model and talk about empathy with them. When a child does something or witnesses something that makes somebody feel sad, quietly explain to them how and why it made them feel that way. (It can be valuable to do this with other emotions, such as fear and happiness, as well.)