This past week our theme was trolling online, with a focus on theplight of marginalized groups--namely women--who participate in online culture. I call this post "trolling 2.0" because I believe the issue of trolling isn't something that has emerged in a digital age. Trolling exists in our offline culture, stemming from the root issues of oppression (racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, etc), which have a long, deep-rooted history of plaguing our society. These plagues have now spilled into digital spaces. In our digital age, trolling and harassment can be more rapid and far-reaching through technology. That being said, many people to rush to blame technology for trolling and harassment… but let us not forget that technology is just a tool; oppression is the real weapon… the real underlying societal issue. My classmate, and good friend, Kristina Boutilier, echoes this in her blog as well.
To take a step back for a moment, I think it is important to explore what trolling is and what it is not. I think there tends to be some confusion about this as well. Trolling is not someone disagreeing with a viewpoint of another. I think occasionally, when someone comments on another's blog post or social media post and the commenter disagrees with the original poster, the original poster is quick to claim it is trolling. We have to be okay with the fact that not everyone will agree with our views, and if we post them on public platforms open to comments, that others may disagree. So when is it trolling? I think it becomes trolling when the person neglects to respectfully disagree. I think it becomes trolling when the person throws insults, threats, oppressive undertones, or becomes relentless. It is certainly trolling when a person is virtually cyber-stalking someone. I think it is also important to consider that sometimes the "trollees" can become the "trollers"… which can evoke a vicious cycle of venom that doesn't belong in online or offline spaces. Essentially, two wrongs don't make a right. It is up to us to create positive spaces online, even if others are intent on the opposite.
How do we address trolling? Perhaps my thoughts differ from the norm on this. First of all, I think we have to behave ethically and model this for others. If we have a problem with what someone has said online (i.e. Twitter), I think the best way we can respond is by talking to the source directly. This can be done by direct messaging (if possible) the person one is in disagreement with. Much like our STF code of ethics calls upon teachers to speak directly to the person they have an issue with before involving others, arguably, the same should be followed online. Sometimes (and in speaking from previous experience), the issue can be resolved by chatting 1:1, as opposed to having an audience. If you can't directly contact the person, then I think good digital citizenship is to respectfully disagree with a person, no matter how infuriating their comment may be. Fighting fire with fire and spitting venom back and forth, I believe, is immature and counterproductive. If the trolling is serious and relentless, perhaps the best course of action is to report it online (if possible) and/or consult knowledgeable authorities instead of taking "justice" into our own hands.
One strategy suggested in our readings this week, is to respond to trolls by exposing and shaming them… calling for a "culture that shames the perpetrators". While I respect the writer's viewpoint, I'm not in agreement that shaming is a productive way to address trolling. I'm a pretty firm believer that socially shaming others is wrong, as it rarely ever carries context with it, and in a way, it is a form of bullying as well. This shaming can spread so rapidly with the simple tap of a share or retweet button… the receiving person gets upset, and the cycle continues. Furthermore, I'm not an advocate of shaming others because, again, we can't possibly know the full context… their story. How did this particular person grow up? What belief systems was this person raised with? What was modelled for them? Was this person afforded opportunities to challenge their thinking in safe spaces? I think educated people, particularly those that can afford post-secondary education, must not be ignorant of their privilege, and the fact that they have had the opportunity to get educated and expand their thinking about these issues. Perhaps some trolls are trapped in their own unrecognized filter bubble. This is NOT excusing trolling behaviour, but rather, just adding some context if we are to ever get past being infuriated by them, and instead, advance change.
So what really makes a difference? Well, I believe that if someone posts something online that you find offensive, and respectfully disagreeing does not work, then write and post something on an alternate space (i.e. your blog, your social media, etc) that highlights the issue you are passionate and want to raise awareness about. We can be activists without stooping to a trolling or social-shaming level. This does not mean that I believe in inaction--quite the opposite, actually. I think each situation needs to be uniquely assessed, and one ought to ask themselves, "is this particular space a cesspool where my comments wouldn't make a difference anyway… and if so, can I find another space where my thoughts could have a greater effect?"
It is understandable that people (particularly marginalized groups) tend to feel nervous or scared to post online. In all honesty, I do too at times. I mean, who wants to receive a deluge of negativity, insults, and/or threats? What makes it even worse, is that the internet is still largely misunderstood by many authority figures (educators, law enforcement, parents, etc) who can help protect and/or guide those who find themselves trolled. As John Oliver states, it is woefully unacceptable for the response to be "what's Twitter?" or "what's trolling?". We need to continue to educate those in positions of authority about the web and how to protect others in online spaces.
If you feel comfortable speaking out publically about any issue, then I commend you! Being a mother, a teacher, etc, I feel that I sometimes have to weigh the cost/benefit to being public on the web with my opinions. Essentially, I'm reflective on what I feel comfortable with to battle outright and what I feel comfortable with to battle from behind the scenes. It's up to each individual's conscience. So... how can we reclaim space on the internet and exercise our voice, while taking extra precautions to protect ourselves from trolls and their harmful effects? I think finding the best space for our voice is often a good start. As stated above, posting our voice in a comment section that is contaminated with hate and/or oppressive rhetoric would not be as effective and far-reaching as creating a blog or posting on our personal social networks. If trolls find their way to our blog, then I believe it could be okay to moderate the comments, so that the we can have some control as to what the tone of our space will take. I think we should approve comments that respectfully disagree and engage in meaningful, productive dialogue, but I don't think we should even give the trolls a platform on our space to purge their hate. One may find that exercising their voice in their own social network, wherein they approve their friends/followers is the space where they feel most safe/comfortable, and that's okay too, as they are still getting their voice out there. Or, one might personally find that online is not the right space for a particular subject/issue to be voiced for whatever reason… that is okay too. We can still exercise our voice offline too.
Ultimately, we must address the offline, deeply-rooted societal issues of racism, sexism, classism, etc if we are to ever see it disappear from online spaces. When it comes to addressing online harassment and trolling, it also comes down to digital citizenship. It is imperative that youth learn how to engage with technology and the web ethically, so that they may develop good habits in the future, creating a web where everyone is welcome and treated with dignity.
Since I started my learning project, I have been connecting with people around the world to practice and improve my Spanish writing and speaking. What follow is a summary of where I established these connections:
In today's age, children don't just inherit genes from their parents, many inherit a digital identity as well. While social media and digital technologies have changed over the years, the parental responsibility to protect the dignity of our children has not. Parental influence on their child's identity is not new; let us not forget about the identity we inherit from our parents offline as well. While some may express concern about digital identities being created for children before they can create one of the their own, I would hope that they have the same degree of concern for the offline identities parents shape for their children as well. The obligation parents have to protect the dignity of their children is imperative both offline AND online.
I'm a parent. I post a lot of pictures of my child on Facebook, and therefore, her digital identity has been developing. I can say that it is a digital identity that I personally believe she can be proud of, as it respects her dignity. She's not yet old enough to understand what a digital identity is, and therefore, my husband and I make loving and responsible decisions about what we share and what we do not share. That being said, as our daughter matures, she will be 100% involved in the decision-making process concerning her digital identity. I believe that this proactive approach models good digital citizenship for children from their earliest years, which in turn forms natural habit.
Consider a scenario where a parent does not create a digital identity for their child; never posting a picture, a story, etc. I wonder what the impact of that decision would be in our digital age. Would the child question why the vast majority of their peers have a digital identity and they do not? Would a parent miss valuable opportunities to model and engage in conversations with their child about digital citizenship from a young age?
Returning to the responsibilities of parents, the practice of seeking permission before posting a photo/story, which KJ Del'Antonia discusses in her blog post, I believe is very important. Not only does it involve children and allow them to exercise choice concerning their digital identity, it will likely instill in them the courtesy to ask others for their permission as well before sharing on their social media. I think it is also important to allow children "veto" rights… if my daughter ever asks me to remove a picture I have shared of her, I will always respect that decision. Ultimately, as parents we need to understand that we "are creating a digital history for a human being that will follow him or her for the rest of their life." Key questions to ask are, "What kind of footprint do you actually want to start for your child, and what will they think about the information you’ve uploaded in future?" My classmate, Adam Scott Williams, expresses similar sentiments, in saying, "We as parents just need to be careful and considerate of our children and their future selves." In actuality, this all boils down to good parenting.
Transferring this concept to the classroom, George Couros has written an excellent blog post about the importance for teachers to have student permission before sharing photos on their Twitter accounts about the learning that is taking place in their classrooms. This is something that I strongly believe in, and it was affirming to see someone post such a well-written article expressing the same sentiments. As teachers, we often think that the simple media release form signed by parents is enough… but is it? Perhaps legally it is, but what about ethically? For instance, as Couros points out, "Each day is different and there are days where maybe a student is not up for you sharing their picture to the world." Furthermore, we generally don't allow students to snap pictures of us without our permission, so why should it be any different for them? As Jimmy Casas (as cited by Couros) says, "What we model is what we get."
Ultimately, we, as teachers, must model and teach about sound digital citizenship, as this is not always modeled and taught at home. Perhaps our modelling and educating about digital citizenship in schools will empower children whose parents have not been very responsible in forming their digital identities to have discussions with their parents about what they are comfortable with sharing.
What follows are more questions than answers...
Search engines and social media sites play a central role in building one’s reputation online. This statement is all the more evident in our current provincial election. To date, there have been four candidates that have been dropped, including a campaign manager. I will not get into naming parties, as if you are interested (or haven't already heard about the events below), that information is readily available online. This post is not intended to be partisan.
Undoubtedly, it is the responsibility of every person to demonstrate good citizenship. Notice I did not specify "digital" citizenship, as those who wish to lead our province ought to being upstanding citizens regardless of the spaces they find themselves in (online and offline). However, what is becoming more and more apparent in the first week of this election season is that online behaviour is deriving higher consequences than offline behaviour. For example, candidates with DUI convictions (sometimes multiple convictions) are being supported in continuing their campaign, while others who have posted questionable or offensive remarks online are being dropped from the race. Why is this the case? Is one behaviour worse than the other? Certainly one behaviour put the lives of others at risk, but the consequence in this election is less severe. When we consider supporting a particular candidate, do we assess their online and offline citizenship equally? As Nathan Jurgenson says, the two are inherently enmeshed.
While we tend to be forgiving of past offline behaviour (i.e. a DUI conviction from 10 years ago), the Leader-Post reports that "Saskatchewan voters aren’t so forgiving about offensive or embarrassing posts made by candidates on social media, according to new poll numbers from Mainstreet for Postmedia." Why do we not extend the same forgiveness to past online behaviour? Should the life expectancy of accountability/consequence be any different? According to this survey, "59 per cent of respondents would be less likely to vote for a candidate with a questionable social media history." When it comes to questionable social media history, do we consider the time, context, and social conditions in which the post was made? Do we consider whether there was one post demonstrating misjudgement or a pattern of posts that demonstrate misjudgement? If someone is remorseful for a mistake made online--particularly when it was just one post/tweet--is it reasonable to hold that person accountable for a lifetime? Are we really to believe that the candidates who run their campaigns the full term of the election have demonstrated perfect citizenship during the course of their lives? I think it's more likely they just didn't get caught. We all make mistakes… if one is remorseful and positively evolves from them, then that ought to be taken into consideration--don't you think?
I'm also wondering why the questionable behaviour of these candidates is only exposed after the election is officially called. Why the wait? If a party is genuinely concerned about the integrity of a candidate in an opposing party, why wait until the election starts to bring it out in the open? Personally, I believe it is less about genuine concern regarding a leader's integrity and more about using someone else's transgressions for personal/collective gain. It sounds more like a competitive political game of who can dig up the most dirt… a social media witch hunt if you will. I also assume that some candidates are more savvy than others when it comes to "decontaminating" their social media (i.e. filtering through and deleting everything that one does not want to surface during an election).
Leaders are talking about robust vetting processes... so I'm wondering what an ideal vetting process looks like. What does an intelligent and fair vetting process look like to you?
It's now March… that means we are two months into our learning project. The past couple weeks had left me feeling a little upset with my progress. While I have undoubtedly improved on my vocabulary and subject/verb agreement, as well as my reading and basic writing, I have been very disappointed with my level of verbal fluency. I suppose I expected to be much further ahead in this aspect than where I am. When I speak, it is still very much broken, delayed, and conveys how unsure I am of myself when speaking. It's as if I have to rehearse what I want to say in my head before I speak it… which is less than ideal to be conversational in another language. In a small group setting, by the time I figure out how to phrase something, the conversation has already advanced to the point where my contribution sounds out of place or irrelevant. I had a little cry in the car a couple weeks ago while explaining my frustrations to my husband and confessed to him that I feel like my brain just isn't wired to speak another language with fluency. It hurts, because my main motivation for choosing this particular learning project is for my family. My husband responded by saying something very obvious, yet profound… he said, "Genna, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason." He told me to consider our daughter for example, she is admittedly behind other children her age in terms of her verbal fluency in both English and Spanish. He said that she's still taking it all in, processing it, testing it, and in time, she will find her voice and develop her fluency. I had to sit back and reflect on this for a bit. How could I use my two ears to develop my Spanish fluency?
I began searching the internet about the importance of listening in learning a language. I then came across a blog post by Benny Lewis, wherein he contends that listening to music and "singing is an amazing way to dramatically improve your language learning strategy", and lists 7 benefits to singing in another language. Intrigued by this, I began to explore deeper. A research study out of the University of Edinburg found that adults who sang in a foreign language were twice as good at speaking it. One of the conclusions of the study was "that by listening to words that are sung, and by singing them back, the technique takes advantage of the strong links between music and memory." This got me to thinking about my experience in French class as a child. I still remember the words to the songs we sang, like "Je Suis une Pizza" and "La Belle Pieuvre". Because of the first song, I am certain I could order a pizza in French with relative ease. It's interesting how words/phrases (language) stick to us through music! Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if I could find a copy of those songs today… and I was pleasantly surprised to come across students "remixing" those songs today! Below are two examples:
I then revisitedLewis' blog, wherein he bravely posted a goofy video of himself singing in German. I admired his approach to visible learning, and it got me to thinking…
Reflecting upon how singing in another language can improve fluency, I decided to embark on the most risky part of my learning project yet: learn a song in Spanish and sing it. Seeing as I am not a singer, nor very musically inclined, I decided that I needed to clearly focus on my goal, which was to improve verbal fluency. For this reason, I decided that I would pick a song I was already familiar with in English, as I would not have the added burden of learning a melody and meaning of a song, which could distract me from my main focus. For this reason--and due to being a Disney nut--I chose to learn "Let it Go" from the Frozen soundtrack.
My first issue was trying to find out what the song was entitled in Spanish. I discovered that there are, in fact, two Spanish versions of the song. One is entitled "Suéltalo", which I learned is something like "drop it" in Spanish. This version was produced for Spain, and the movie name was "The Ice Kingdom". The second translation of the song is entitled "Libre Soy", which translates to "I'm free". This version was produced for Latin America, and incidentally, the movie had a different title as well: "A Frozen Adventure". Seeing as I am focusing on Latin Spanish, I chose to learn the latter. As I was reading and practicing the lyrics, I began picking up on some words because my vocabulary has improved over the past two months. What I noticed is that some of the words/metaphors appearing in the Spanish version differed from that of the English version. This caused me to actually examine the translation of the song, and what I noticed is that while the theme is the same, the selection of metaphors differs, which makes the narrative unique in its own way. Up until delving into this endeavor, I had never given any thought to the translation of beloved movies, books, songs, etc. In these cases, direct translation is not possible… translation is always an interpretation. So, while the storyline can be very close, each translation takes on its own unique figurative meaning, which influence our understanding of these narratives. Even when looking for a translation of "Libre Soy" back to English, I saw different interpretations. After I developed my own 'interpretation of the interpretations', I also consulted my husband, a native Spanish speaker, who helped me draw out more sense of the lyrics. Once I rewrote the Spanish lyrics in English, I was able to learn the song better, as I had a full understanding of what I was saying... and within a couple weeks, I know it by heart. You will notice in my video that I have included my English interpretation of the Spanish translation, so that you can also observe the differences in the song.
I'm very nervous about posting myself singing, as I am not a good singer (which is why I'm singing with the original artist, Martina Stoessel) and likely opens me up to judgement and/or criticism… however, singing well was not my goal; building fluency was. I want to make my learning progress visible, so this is the best way to share this learning experience with you. If my video gives you a laugh, then great--I'm glad you are able to derive enjoyment from the experience like I did! My highlight in all of this is, for the first time in my entire life, I got to experience verbal fluency in another language. Granted, the words are not mine; however, I've never been able to speak more than one very basic sentence fluently. In the video below, I was able to speak fluently for three and a half minutes…multiple sentences--it felt so empowering! In previous posts, I have discussed how terribly self-conscious I am to speak Spanish out-loud (even to close family members)… in many ways, this experience liberated me from such a profound self-consciousness. While I may continue to struggle with nervousness and uncertainty while speaking… I'm not going to let self-consciousness stand in the way of me trying! In a way, I'm "Libre Soy" as well!
Does copyright limit creativity?
Can you still be creative when integrating the ideas of others?
How can we, as educators, support remix as a literacy?
In what ways is sharing and open access a moral imperative?
Media is part of our everyday experience; remix can become a powerful tool that allows users to engage simultaneously as consumers and creators. Remix can be defined as taking "cultural artifacts and combing and manipulating them into new kinds of creative blends." Inherent in the conversation of remix is the conversation of copyright and all its legal implications. Larry Lessig, argues that "digital remix constitutes a contemporary form of writing on the scale of a mass cultural practice and raises issues demanding serious reform of current copyright law." For instance, when 10-year-olds are being sued, (as opposed to being encouraged to create and remix culture) a serious problem exists.
Kirby Fergusson, in his TED talk, very eloquently illustrates the idea that everything is a remix. He references a compelling quote from Henry Ford, who once said, "I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work. Progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready and then it is inevitable." Fergusson argues that copyright and patent laws are running counter to Ford's notion that we build on the work of others. These laws tend to ignite debate and cultivate standpoints that ideas and works are property to be owned and secured. This is extremely problematic, as it neglects to view ideas as entities that evolve from the minds of many. Fergusson encourages society to embrace remix as a form of creative expression, as "our creativity comes from without, not from within. We are not self-made. We are dependent on one another, and admitting this to ourselves isn't an embrace of mediocrity and derivativeness. It's a liberation from our misconceptions" and an exciting realization that we can be readers AND writers, consumers AND producers.
It is imperative that society comes to understand that remix is not piracy. Remix is not stealing content from others and disseminating it without the permission of the creator. Remix is not claiming ownership over someone's ideas (whose ideas really only exist from the evolution of other ideas). As Lessig says, remix is about "people taking and recreating using other people's content,using digital technologies to say things differently." In fact, remix has become a means ofcreative expression among youth of today. Remix has empowered voice and has, in essence, become, as Lessig says, "a literacy for this generation… [for people to] participate in the creation and recreation of the culture around us." Furthermore, remix is inherently endless "in the sense that each new mix becomes a meaning-making resource for subsequent remixes… [and, therefore] expands the possibilities for future remixes."
Jonathan McIntosh created a very popular remix entitled “Buffy vs. Edward”. He used the power of remix to expose gender representation in media. He mashed together scenes from Twilight, featuring a creepy, possessive, and domineering Edward, that tends to perpetuate gender stereotypes of women in passive, dependent roles; in contrast, he mashes scenes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, featuring Buffy in an independent, powerful female role. In essence, McIntosh was able to challenge culture through the powerfully contrasting remix. If you are interested in reading more about McIntosh's purpose and his reflections for this digital remix, you can read more here. You can also check out the video below:
Brett Gaylor's RiP! A Remix Manifesto, explores the "war of ideas" and the Internet as the battleground. It examines the creative process over the product and the divide between those who view their ideas as personal property and those who want to share their ideas to contribute to, and enhance, the creative process. It's an incredibly informative and eye-opening video to check out:
This weekend I had the opportunity to watch the story of Aaron Swartz. Normally my husband is rather disinterested in the material I read and the videos I watch for my grad courses, but he, too, was captivated by this tragic story. The thing that stood out most to me throughout the documentary was when Swartz was talking about his experience with the education system. I think educators (and those who are major decision makers in education) need to sit up and listen. This caused me to dig deeper and read one of Swartz's previously unpublished essays entitled Against School. Swartz argues that schools have "never been about actual education", but rather, they have been about memorization, regurgitation, and no real deep thinking about what has been learned… in fact, the love of learning and natural wonder is essentially stripped from children. What he describes still exists in many classrooms, and that's a frightening reality. As Vanessa discusses in her blog post, we certainly are in need of a revolution in schools.
The effect on the students is almost heartbreaking. Taught that reading is simply about searching contrived stories for particular “text features,” they learn to hate reading. Taught that answering questions is simply about cycling through the multiple choice answers to find the most plausible ones, they begin to stop thinking altogether and just spout random combinations of test buzzwords whenever they’re asked a question. “The joy of finding things out” is banished from the classroom. Testing is in session. - Aaron Swartz
The other phrase that stood out to me in watching the story of Swartz was "sharing is not immoral… it is a moral imperative." I certainly agree. If our society is to improve, if our world is to become a better place, ideas (and access to ideas) cannot be restricted. Restriction can breed social inequality, as Swartz's best friend, Ben Winkler, says, "Poor and rich people pay taxes for the research that goes into these journals. Only those wealthy enough to pay for subscriptions or go to universities can reap the fruits of their funding... It reinforces fundamental social inequalities.” The story of 15 year-old Jack Andraka is another example of the dangers that restrictions can have on human potential. Andraka's "breakthrough pancreatic cancer test would have never come about were it not for access to online journals -- what Internet guru Aaron Swartz was promoting before his death." This openness of information brought about positive change in our world that may have otherwise never been realized!
If you have time, I recommend watching Andraka's talk, entitled Tapping into the Hidden Innovator: An Open Access Story.
There’s been a lot of talk about building walls in the media as of late… and the issue of “firewalls” in schools also continues to be raised. Logic: block bad things, then kids can’t look at bad things, and therefore, we protect children.
Is it really that simple? Is it really even effective?
We all know this is a game of whack-a-mole. Does it make sense to block one app/site? I mean, there will be 10 more where they were. - CBC
Many schools now ask students to “bring your own device.” Which means kids on the school wireless might be blocked by firewalls but those who use a data plan aren’t. - John Himanen via National Post
Why are we so consumed with blocking and so reserved when it comes to educating? Do we remain behind the rolling fires with our fire extinguishers or do we get ahead of the fire, being proactive by educating students how to prevent fires of their own and how to COPE if/when they find themselves faced with a fire? I argue that schools need to TALK, not block; educate, not abdicate.
I find it interesting that society tends to look at the internet as this dangerous place where kids have access to explicit material. I would argue that yes, the internet does have a plethora of explicit material… but so does television, magazines, radio, etc, and even our modern culture in general. The material exists even if we irrationally took the internet away. We can’t block kids from it all, but we can definitely educate them about how to navigate a world infiltrated with this kind of material.
This ultimately boils down to not just digital citizenship, but citizenship in general. How do we educate children to become good citizens at school, at home, and in the world? It certainly does take a village. Classmates Nicole Reeve and Kyle Webb ask very important questions as educators: “How can we help? What can we do?” As far as school goes, I think citizenship and character education need to be infused into curriculum and be reflective of our modern, increasingly digital society. I believe this will empower children to develop robust coping skills (and hopefully, skills to influence change) in a society where explicit content is all around them (digitally and non-digitally).
We can’t be afraid to talk about what’s out there, nor can we instill fear in children that the world (particularly the digital realm) is a dangerous place. I think schools should provide ample opportunity for students to experience the positive power of the digital (and non-digital) tools that students have access to and reclaim these digital (and non-digital) spaces for making a difference. The internet can be considered the home of explicit content (if we allow it), or it can be considered the home of social action, open, connected learning, networking, leadership, inspiring creation and change, etc.
We can no longer ignore the opportunities that exist for our learners today. Our job is to create an education system that is better than the one we grew up in, as will be the duty of the next generation of educators. We must embrace what is right in front of us. - George Couros
The meaningful integration of the Ministry’s digital citizenship continuum where possible should not be a choice… it ought to be mandatory. It’s simply good pedagogy. We are not doing students any favours by ignoring the world they live in; students need to be prepared to be citizens of tomorrow. I believe it starts very young, and I am increasingly hopeful, as in my role as a Teacher Technology Coach I see so many primary teachers leading the way. From the time children are first learning to read and write, teachers are modelling all the positive ways one can consume, contribute, and create online. Call me an eternal optimist, but I believe that this truly does make a difference. I think a significant portion of youth missed these opportunities as a young child, as the internet wasn’t fully understood, digital citizenship wasn’t a priority in education, etc. When the internet is left as digital Wild Wild West, of course issues of cyber-bullying, trolling, cyber self-harm, explicit content, forums like 4chan, etc. are encountered and often spin out of control.
I would argue that children engaging in the behavior mentioned above lack skills (coping skills, social skills, self-control skills, communication skills, etc.), virtues (respect, kindness, empathy, dignity, conscience, etc.), knowledge/education, and likely lacked positive opportunities to engage with the internet in meaningful ways as young children. I don’t think it’s the internet that can be fully blamed; I think the root issues exist offline. So, instead of asking “what sites/apps do we need to block?” we ought to be asking “what skills, virtues, knowledge, etc do we need to develop?” We also need to have robust support for the mental health of youth. If these skills, virtues, knowledge, well-being, etc. are developed, I think the internet (and the offline, which is undeniably interconnected) will flourish.
Teacher & Tech Coach with Regina Catholic Schools. Passion for EdTech, 21st century student-centered pedagogy, connected learning & differentiated instruction. Grad student.