I’m Jen Goerzen. I’m a graduate student at UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies and I have been working as one of the student coordinators for the Digital Tattoo project for the past 2 years. We’ve used the metaphor of a tattoo for this project because the information found online is very much like one. It’s: highly visible hard to remove can be an expression of yourself to others (for better or worse!) In one short session we can really only explore a small sample of the many issues surrounding this topic. We’d like to begin by providing some context for why this project was started and why we feel it’s important to share it with you today We’re going to outline some of your hopes and fears in relation to your own offspring’s online participation. We’ll take a look at what kids are actually doing online and discuss some recent scenarios regarding the impact of digital identity on today’s youth and their families. Finally, we’ll end with some basic principles we feel that everyone (adult or child) should keep in mind when participating online, some questions to ask your kids and a few parting words of advice. Throughout the session I’ll be asking you to brainstorm ideas and contribute your thoughts as well. You input is an essential part of the workshop. Please don’t hesitate to stop me at any time for questions/comments that arise.
Take a couple of minutes and see if you know what all these text abbreviations stand for? Answers (click to show) Don’t worry if you couldn’t translate any of these text messages. This exercise was more of an icebreaker than a true test of your ability to manage your child’s online activity. That said, on a scale of 1-10 how would you currently rate your comfort level for supporting your child with their digital learning.
Though these stats are averages, most Canadian kids use the internet regularly and for a wide variety of tasks. As such, parenting today includes teaching your kids to be responsible online.
Like it or not, there are also literally thousands of ways for them to connect with others and most of these are optimized for sharing and collecting information. Many applications claim that this is to make things more convenient for the user. What do you think? Of course, some have had more impact than others… and the policies and automated settings continue to change for privacy, rights to photos & media, etc. Raise you hand if you could accurately say what all the current default settings are for the social networking sites your children use? What about the policies for using photos and other media that’s posted?
With stats like these, there is a tendency to assume that youth are cavalier about what they’re doing. We accuse our young people of not caring about their privacy at all. Interesting since as Dana Boyd (a prominent researcher on youth and digital media) notes mommy bloggers regularly share embarrassing details about their children’s lives online so can we really criticize teens for not caring about privacy (http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/). Furthermore, recent studies from the Berkman Center actually indicate: ” Young adults have an aspiration for increased privacy even while they participate in an online reality that is optimized to increase their revelation of personal data.” (Hoofnagle, King, Li & Turow, 2010, p.20) … and according to the latest Pew Internet research report (May 2010), young Internet users are actually becoming the most vigilant population in restricting access to personal information. So if 33% still aren’t adjusting the privacy settings on their Facebook account… “ It’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that they don’t know.”
This is a graph of Google search result stats from 2004 to present indicating an exponential rise in the search for “delete my Facebook”! This would seen to indicate we’re beginning to get it.
So many things really haven’t changed. Developmentally, youth still do not think about the long term repercussions of their actions. Coupled with a tendency toward risk-taking this can be devastating, especially when it is digitally, permanently published online. As this quote points out, the implications of this are still unfolding. Legislation has not caught up with distribution methods and with the ongoing development of new devices and apps, it’s unlikely to catch up anytime soon. This only serves to highlight the importance that we are individually accountable for our online decision-making, and that we need to advocate for and guide our children as they learn to navigate these uncharted waters.
How many of you would say you have a digital profile? Do you think your kids have an online identity? I would suggest that all of you have some kind of digital dossier. Some of this information is contributed by you, some of it by others. There is information that is publicly available while other records may not be so accessible (eg. medical records, etc). It is important to consider what information you truly want to share and what levels of privacy are important to you. Raise your hand if you have ever searched your own name online? How about your kid(s)’ name(s)?
We interviewed students on UBC’s campus and asked what we’d find out about them online. This video is a good reflection of the typical responses we get in UBC student workshops. It would be interesting to do a similar piece interviewing students at one of your children’s high schools or elementary schools. As you watch, imagine what the responses might be like at your child’s school. [click to play] Interesting to note that in general the older students either have no idea what’s out there about them or have given up trying to manage their online identity while most of the younger ones are aware and actively managing what they do online. That is really one of the most important steps to take. Know what’s already out there and be proactive about sharing information you do want others to see. Along the way, take measures to ensure privacy when it matters to you.
Here’s what you might find out if you searched my name… Mostly to do with my work for DT. 2 nd one is classic racy Facebook photo of someone else with the same name. Does it matter? Can I defend this? As a future graduate in search of work, should I be concerned about this? Would someone mistake this for me? Last one is my academic work from an online course I took. If we ask students to publish their academic work online does this have long-term consequences (good or bad)? Is this work recognized/judged as part of a learning process? Managing an online identity is beginning to sound like something pretty complex for kids don’t you think?
If we’re honest, I think many of us have serious concerns or even fears when we think about our children online. Activity (While I prep this brief video) In groups of 2-4 quickly brainstorm your primary concerns when you think about your children participating online. [Debrief and inform parents that many/most of these will be addressed in the workshop session. Example responses below] [View video] Some of the most common fears (bone-chilling ones like this video for example) will easily come to mind, however there are numerous important issues that may be less obvious. Mainstream media focuses on sensational stories but this can sometimes obscure the real issues that our youth face. Eg answers. Contact - Sexual risk and harm, Cyberbullying Conduct – Cyberbullying, Privacy, Pornography, Violent and hateful content, Gaming, Excessive Internet use Content – Consumerism (Marketing aimed at kids), secularism, pornography, government regulation, violent and hateful content, junk food, public schools, religious and racial bigotry…. Adapted from Collier, Anne. (2011). Net-related “juvenoia,” Part 2: So why are we afraid? | NetFamilyNews.org. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from http://www.netfamilynews.org/?p=30266
Generally, what parents fear most is exposure. “ Not exposure to technology, but the exposure technology affords ” (Collier, Anne. (2011). http://www.netfamilynews.org/?p=30266) The UK’s Byron Reviews (an extensive report looking at children’s online behaviour and the role of parents, government and industry to support children online) divides this into 3 key categories: contact (what most commonly comes to mind/illustrated by the short video we just viewed) conduct content [BTW, You’ll be happy to know that this picture isn’t “real” but a prank that someone posted on flickr.]
We’ll start with issues related to contact because these usually are the most serious and because we frequently make false assumptions related to e-safety. To protect children we need to understand who is most at risk and why. The following info is from Media Awareness Network’s “Parenting the Net Generation” workshop materials http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/parents/internet/parenting_net_generation.cfm . Re: Online predators Research shows that adults who try to establish sexual relationships with youth online rarely misrepresent their age or their motives. 1 In addition, young children are at much lower risk of online predation than older youth. Those who face the most danger are young teens, ages 13-15, who are involved in high-risk behaviours , including talking with strangers online; flirting or speaking about sex with strangers; and posting intimate information in open Web environments such as social networking sites. 2 One of the key findings of Media Awareness Network’s research is that having household rules about Internet use makes a big difference in kids’ behaviour. For example, having a rule about meeting online acquaintances in the real world reduces the likelihood that a young person will do so by half. Although kids are more likely to break a rule as they get older, the very fact that there is one in place continues to affect their behaviour positively. _____________________________________ 1 Wolak, Janis, David Finkelhor, and Kimberly Mitchell. Online Predators and Their Victims: Myths, Realities and Implications for Prevention, American Psychologist, February/March 2009. 2 Ibid.
Cyberbullying “ Youth are often reluctant to report online problems to their parents for fear of losing their Internet and cell phone privileges – despite the fact that only a small percentage (2%) of parents react this way.” ( Media Awareness Network, Parenting the Net Generation) These misconceptions speak to the importance of parents establishing open discussion with their kids about their Internet use, and to establishing age-appropriate rules. [There is a link to an eg. cyberbullying contract you can use to discuss these issues on your resource guide handout.] Additionally, there is a correlation between children who are most at risk in real world settings and those most at risk online. Research by Canada’s Media Awareness network found that those who visited offensive websites were most often the same as those who reported being bullied or sexually harassed in the past school year. In addition to appropriate contact (and to highlight this pink poster and the pink T-shirt campaign in general) , as parents we need to also discuss appropriate conduct with our kids.
Cvberbullying We worry about our children being bullied online, but we also need to take the time to actively teach our children not to bully others and not to act as passive participants/supporters of bullying. It can be every bit as important that our kids learn how to communicate respectfully online and that they know how to report hurtful behaviour to a trusted adult. Older teen girls tend to be most involved in cases of cyberbullying. Violence/Gaming Research is unclear about the effects of media violence on children but gratuitous violence is said to be most damaging. (eg. A child wanted to play Call of Duty. In an effort to limit exposure/participation to gratuitous violence but not force a situation where the child played in secret, one parent agreed to let their son play Call of Duty provided they follow the Geneva Convention. Whether you would make the same decision or not, it certainly would open the door for a meaningful conversation between parent/child, don’t you think?) Sexting We’ll discuss exposure to content in a minute, but discussing our children’s own conduct with respect to sexually explicit material is also important. We are currently in a time where legislation has not caught up to with the distribution channels we now have available (whether we’re talking about copyrighted content, sexting or documenting illegal activity in general). so we need to be proactive as parents and as individuals because these issues can be very serious. There can be devastating legal and social implications for sexting. Excessive internet use (from Media Awareness Network’s “Parenting the Net Generation”) Only one-third of parents have a rule about how much time kids can spend online and yet experts worry about the impact of excessive Internet use. It’s not just the time spent online that is an issue; the number of online activities being done simultaneously can also cause problems. Over half of Canadian youth multitask most of the time, 1 which raises concerns amongst cognitive experts who believe that multi-tasking decreases the quality of the different tasks being performed. 2 Scientists also wonder how the lack of mental “downtime” to relax and reflect is affecting this “always on” generation of young users. Having your own Internet connection is a risk factor for excessive use. Students who have their own Internet-connected computer report spending twice as much time online as those who share a connection with other family members. ________________________ 1 Zamaria, Charles and Fred Fletcher, Canada Online! , Canadian Internet Project , 2007. <http://www.canadianinternetproject.ca/en/docs/2008/CIP07_CANADA_ONLINE-REPORT-FINAL%20.pdf> 2 Rubinstein, J. S., D. E. Meyer & J. E. Evans, Executive Control of Cognitive Processes in Task Switching, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 2001. Privacy The topic could be a workshop in and of itself. We’ll discuss privacy in terms of SNS later. For now, raise you hand if you have read the privacy policies on websites your children use often. Case in point.
Depending on your personal views, you may be concerned about some or all of these issues. It’s easy to feel that this is both overwhelming and discouraging. However, it’s also a good reminder that there are numerous conversations parents need to be having with their children in order to bring some critical awareness to what they are viewing online. Some of this content is obvious and relatively easy to avoid (using search filters, etc.) but there are also subtleties that bear consideration. Ask why your child may be seeking out this content. Are there underlying issues that need to be addressed? Are they looking for information but unsure where to go/ uncomfortable asking? [For example, there’s excellent info for youth on sexuality and health at http://www.sexualityandu.ca/ ] Marketing aimed at kids 95 per cent of students’ favourite Web sites contained commercial content ¾ of kids who play product-centred games think they are just games and are not consciously aware of the advertisements. (Source: Media Awareness Network, Young Canadians in a Wired World , 2005.) Interesting to consider that parents throughout history listed many of these same concerns about fiction books, comics, radio, television, etc. The medium has changed but are the issues really new? So what is it that makes the challenges created by internet access different? You can mull over that a little while we move on to consider the more positive aspects of online participation.
After all of this sobering content, let’s move on to talk about our hopes and what we can do for our kids? In groups of 2-4 brainstorm your ideas to complete the following sentence: When I think about my child learning to participate online I hope that they will learn to… (Debrief)
I want to also emphasize that, for the well-informed, online participation presents fantastic opportunities. Click One: Access to Information and furthering education Topics can be explored deeply. We can “go around the world with the click of a mouse”. Learning can happen with a diverse community (I.e. online learning facilitates sharing perspectives from people all over the globe, from folks who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice). Click Two: Connect and Collaborate We have become a culture that values networking – now more than ever. It's not what you know, it's who you know. In fact, one of the most valued professional skills is the ability to form, manage, and nurture a team. The skills learned on social networking sites, blogs, etc. – like how to communicate appropriately online, provide constructive feedback, and build groups of people with common interests. There's also the element of global connectedness, which is new to this generation. They're able to easily connect with people from around the world and learn about different perspectives. Click Three: Community Support, Shared Passions and a Level Playing Field? The Internet can be a very positive tool for building community. We have the opportunity to explore interests and find a community of like-minded people that can provide support. Example: Earthquake in Japan fundraising Shy people in the offline world can create a new persona and be part of a group of friends/community online. (adapted from commonsense.org) Plenty of great possibilities… and we want our children to be able to take advantage of them. The general answer for what we hope our children can do online is … to become digitally literate.
So what is digital literacy? In the past, the goal of education was to provide young people with the knowledge and skills to make sense of their world. That world now includes a digital realm. You’ve likely all heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a model for moving students toward higher thinking skills. Take a minute and try to imagine how digital literacy skills might fit into this hierarchy. Analyzing and Evaluating I’d like to focus on the top three higher learning skills in particular. If we think about using the internet for learning, for example, research indicates that students are increasingly turning to Google before books. That said, according to research from “Young Canadians in a Wired World” the majority of kids admit that the information they find online and the marks they get are not necessarily better than when they used (were made to use) print materials. 1 Interestingly, “when students are asked what Internet-related subjects they would like to learn about in school, the top choice? “ How to tell if information you find on the Net is true or not.” 2 [If I can give a plug the library for a minute, this would be a great time to remind yourselves that this is the ideal place for your kids to learn about authenticating online information and accessing authoritative content.] 1 Young Canadians in a Wired World - Phase II | Key Findings. (2005). ERIN Research. Media Awareness Network . Retrieved August 17, 2011, from http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/research/YCWW/phaseII/key_findings.cfm 2 Ibid.
That leaves creating, at the top of the pyramid for higher level skills. Well here’s a few terms for new literacies in an increasingly participatory and digital culture. Note that many of these involve: -social skills -collaboration -networking Do these sound like skills you regularly use in your profession?
Now that we’ve identified some of our hopes and fears for our kids online, let’s have a look at what they’re actually doing. Again, most of these activities have potential benefits as well as cautions. On the one hand, our children may be learning, sharing, creating, building friendships and honing desirable networking skills. At the same time, these same activities may result in undesirable exposure or even activities with legal implications (i.e. sexting, plagiarism, copyright violations). Ask yourself if your child knows: How to evaluate the quality of internet resources for research? Who they connected to online? (eg. multi-player games) What information they are disclosing intentionally? Unintentionally? How much time they are spending gaming? In a virtual reality vs. a real one? How much violence, commercial or sexualized content they are exposed regularly? If they are downloading media illegally?
Let’s look at some more cases of involving youth and online media. [Divide into groups of ~4-8 and pass out case studies]. Case Studies- “Louise and David’s World” Privacy Tips for Facebook Families Social media and the 2011 Vancouver riots
[Ask groups to discuss these questions for their case study. Have them briefly summarize the case and share their observations with the larger group.]
Decide how important your privacy is and help your children take measures to safeguard theirs.
As you likely know, this now infamous picture has had lasting repercussions for the individuals involved (and their families). [In fact, I couldn’t find a way to properly cite this photo because it is posted so many places and so many people claim to be the photographer/claim copyright privileges.] There are hundreds of other similar examples. A search for “Vancouver riot” on Flickr reveals more than 14,000 entries.
The VPD have reportedly received more than one million photos and tips from people who took footage during the Vancouver riots… Here’s just a handful of relevant quotes drawn from local press on the topic: This massive online reaction to the Vancouver riots is unprecedented and called “potentially as groundbreaking as WikiLeaks” “ The mob mentality has moved into cyberspace for the first time.” “ Many of the comments are horrific, threatening things that these people might not normally say.” “ There is a profound disconnect between who we are online and in life. We are still learning how to be cyber citizens.” A photo of a person, or a joke posted on Facebook, could be taken out of context. “This could ruin people’s lives even if they are cleared in court.&quot; -from http://www.globaltvbc.com/Vancouver+riots+2011+Crown+look+potential+charges/4976048/story.html
On the other hand, there has been an equally impressive number of posts apologizing for the sad events, celebrating the positive aspects of Vancouver and supporting those who volunteered to clean-up after the riots.
Here’s just a few examples of the efforts of Vancouver citizens to clean-up after the riots, messages of support for the work of these volunteers and apologies for the sad events that took place. Direct evidence that social media, like most aspects of online participation, can be both devastating and positive.
Given what kids are actually doing online and some of the scenarios we’ve just discussed, what is it then that kids (or anyone for that matter) really need to think about before participating online?
Firstly, our children need to know that being online is essentially being in public. This is regardless of the passwords, email accounts and privacy settings we think are protecting us. Take protective measures, yes, but consider whether you ultimately want to share information publicly before posting anything, anywhere… This is especially true of anything we do online that is hosted on a server in the US because of the USA Patriot Act. (i.e. In the USA, there are cases of people not getting hired due to information on their Facebook account, regardless of the degree to which their privacy settings were set).
We don’t always know who is viewing the information we share online and what their intentions are for using that information. What’s that saying… “You can’t un-friend Mark Zuckerberg.” Consumer culture: Most forums we use also have an invisible audience with a specific purpose. Usually, it’s to collect data about your online activity in order to advertise and sell a product. All too often, we fail to read the fine print on these sites and we willingly share/upload content without really knowing how it can potentially be used. Unfortunately, the illusion of anonymity also leads some people to behave and interact online in ways they wouldn’t face-to-face. Cyberbullying ( from Media Awareness Network’s “Parenting the Net Generation”) On the Internet, you can’t see others; and others can’t see you – which makes it easier for perpetrators to remain anonymous. 1 Unfortunately, when people believe they are anonymous, they also may feel less accountable for their actions because they assume they won’t get caught. In reality, however, young people may not be as anonymous as they believe themselves to be. For example, in a study of over 2000 students in Grades 6 and 7 two-thirds of those who reported having been cyberbullied knew who was bullying them. 2 ________________________________ 1 Willard, Nancy, What is Right and What is Wrong? How can we help young people use information and communication technologies in an ethical manner?, Presented at the National Conference on Cyberethics, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, October 2000. <http://www.responsiblenetizen.org/onlinedocs/documents/whatisright.doc> 2 Mishna, F., Cyber Bullying Among Middle and High School Students, Presented at Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario Forum, Youth Privacy Online: Take Control, Make It Your Choice, Toronto, March 2008.
Finally, we should be aware that our online content is essentially permanent. “ This is not only due to caching (i.e. Wayback Machine) but because… All content in a digital space can be moved freely around the Web. This &quot;cut and paste&quot; culture allows rapid and widespread sharing of information, and it also means that photos, emails, IMs, comments, and more can be taken out of context and used in ways that the author didn't intend”. commonsense.org
With freedom of expression comes responsibility. Youth need to take responsibility for the content they contribute. Earlier this year Trend Micro held a competition to create a video educating people about staying safe and secure online and using the Internet responsibly. The Grand Prize Winner was “Where Are You?” by Mark C. Eshleman and featuring Tyler Joseph About this video: The internet has such a big impact on young people and if we were going to make a powerful video, we wanted to tackle what seemed to be the biggest issue: being a good online citizen. We wanted to reach out with a positive message and do it in a creative way. We can only hope that &quot;Where Are You?&quot; will make someone rethink their online life.
Kids need to ask themselves… (read slide) You’ll recall the earlier statements about family rules and internet contracts and the impact those can have. So I’ve also included some hand-outs with a list of excellent resources and some internet checklists for parents, teens and children if these are useful conversation starters. Who is my audience? Who else may be collecting information about me? Parents , Teachers, Principals, Coaches, People you don’t like, People who don’t like you, Colleges, Universities,(Future) Employers, Strangers, Predators What are the consequences if I make poor decisions online? Loss of reputation, trust… people may not want to be your friend /take you seriously Suspension or expulsion from school Failure to get into your dream school, college, university Failure to get a job Prosecution Child pornography Cyberbullying
If talking in the car on the way to practice seems to be the only time you and your child really have a conversation that works too. But so does A (cell)phone call Texting Facebook Xbox Live Second Life Don’t know how? Ask your kid! What better opportunity to start some of these important conversations… and a sense of humour never hurts either.
We’d love your feedback. The survey URL is https://www.surveyfeedback.ca/surveys/wsb.dll/s/1g1130
Highly Visible and Hard to Remove Digital Tattoo for Parents Jen Goerzen [email_address]
66% of girls use the Internet primarily for socializing
Microsoft Canada Co. and Youthography, Internet Safety Survey , 2009
41% of children ages 8 to 17 who had visible profiles on social networking sites included personal information such as their e-mail address, phone number, home address or IM contact. Office of Communications, Social Networking: A quantitative
and qualitative research report into attitudes, behaviours and use, 2008
Context: SNS If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, between the United States (~300 million) and India (~1.2 billion)!
What are kids doing online? Source: The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project 2009 Parent-Teen Cell Phone Survey, conducted from June 26 to September 24, 2009. n= 800 teens ages 12-17 (including 245 cell phone interviews). % of teen internet users who do the following activities online % Use an online social networking site like MySpace or Facebook 73 Go online to get news or information about current events or politics 62 Buy things online, such as books, clothing, or music 48 Share something online that you created yourself, such as your own artwork, photos, stories or videos 38 Look online for health, dieting, or physical fitness information 31 Take material you find online like songs, text or images and remix it into your own artistic creation 21 Look for info online about a health topic that’s hard to talk about (drug use, sexual health, depression…) 17 Create or work on your own online journal or blog 14 Use Twitter 8 Visit virtual worlds such as Gaia, Second Life… 8
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