Parents Guide through Literacy and Social Media Social Media

Parents Guide through Literacy and Social Media
Social Media Literacy and Internet Safety Sections
Second Draft
Prepared for: Learning Disabilities Association of York Region
Prepared by: Ryan Moreau, Kiwi Seminars for Internet Safety Inc.
Draft presented: January 10, 2011
Introduction to Social Media Literacy
Social media allows users to interact with each other through profile pages, messaging systems, and
media posting. To become more social media literate, understand how social media can be utilized
through learning to find, to use, and to communicate using technology – in fact it has nothing to do
specifically with using the computer.
Whether children are playing games, chatting, researching, or simply watching videos online, we can
teach important aspects of social media literacy. We want to help children thinking about what they are
doing online and question what is being seen, to ensure that it is safe and appropriate.
As a parent, it’s important to consider:
What are your child’s areas of interest online?
Does he/she ask questions about what they are interested in, or are they self-guided?
Can he/she express what they are doing and what they want to be doing?
Does he/she understand what appropriate behavior is, and follow rules?
The Internet is where many of today’s children learn, socialize and entertain themselves, so it’s
important that we as grownups understand it, luckily we don’t always need to keep up to speed with its
frequent changes to keep children safe online. We want to make sure children feel safe and secure
every time they go online, it’s not necessary that we become experts at everything they are doing.
The Internet and social media are everywhere these days; they can be accessed on computers, mobile
phones, video game consoles, and tablets. Many children love to use some or all of these devices. We
need to understand and teach responsible use of social media and safe use of technology.
Luckily, time-tested safety messages like “Don’t talk to strangers” and “Don’t say things you wouldn’t
want your mother to hear,” also apply to the online world. We can use these and similar messages to
help children make educated choices that will keep them safer on the Internet and on social media.
Ultimately, there are two goals when it comes to supporting social media literacy and safety online:
1) Children need to be taught to understand that they can ask for help as soon as online problems arise
and that reporting a problem is not grounds for punishment.
2) Children need to be empowered and educated to make safe choices online–and appreciate that there
are real world consequences when using the Internet, and especially social media.
How the Internet Works
In order to understand how social media works and how to stay safe while using it, it is important to
have a basic understanding of how the Internet works.
The Internet is a collection of networks that links all Internet-enabled devices. Almost everything we do
using modern communication and entertainment technology is connected. This includes email, online
shopping, online banking, social media and multiplayer gaming.
The Internet is simple enough so that even a young child can use the technology, but it’s also incredibly
far-reaching and seemingly anonymous. People with bad or harmful intentions can access the Internet
just as effortlessly as we can.
Children need to be taught to fully appreciate the immediacy and permanence of their online actions:
• What happens online stays online–there are no ‘take backs.’
• It is almost impossible to ensure the privacy of online posts.
• Privacy settings don’t really make things private. The fine print in the ‘Terms of Service’ agreement we
all pretend to read often states this.
Children should understand that the Internet connects us to other people even when they’re just
playing games or watching videos – and that the people they are connected to aren’t always friendly.
As children grow and become more engaged online, they often develop fully formed online identities.
We want to make sure that as parents, the HOWs’ of the Internet get addressed, like, “How does the
Internet function?” and “How are we all connected?”
Discussing the WHY’s of how we should act, based on how the Internet works is also an important part
of teaching children to be smart online. The focus of conversations should be on explaining the lasting
effects of online choices, decisions and actions.
Safe Social Media Use
Depending on the age of the child, the sites they use--or want to use--can be quite different. But there
are some online destinations that children of all ages are heading to; these include Facebook, YouTube,
and sites that support online games. The reality is that children under 13 are often setting up accounts
without their parents’ knowledge--it isn’t difficult to get the help of friends or siblings.
These sites typically have a user agreement that needs to be agreed to in order to sign up for the
service. Children tend to click “Accept” (or enter fake information pertaining to age) in order to obtain
these accounts. The best example of this is the number of children using Facebook prior to turning 13
(the minimum age to sign up for an account) without their parents even being aware!
Social media is great for children to use in growing social circles, expressing themselves, watching
videos, and a number of other activities. Popular sites include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and
Windows Live; however they can change extremely quickly.
The main thing we want to teach our children is that the material they post and the profiles they create
may have consequences immediately or later in life. Institutions--like schools and companies--use the
Internet and social media to investigate people applying for jobs, scholarships and college admission.
Nowadays it’s easy to save things to computers and copy images, files, or even messages--we never
know who may have a copy of anything we post. That’s why it is important to teach children to treat the
Internet as if it remembers and shares everything, with everybody.
Discouraging children from accepting online friends they don’t know from the real world and warning
them not to respond to messages from strangers, as well as providing a constant reminder that parents
are here to help – provide a foundation for safe social media use.
We must teach children how dangerous it is to post personal information on any social media site -which includes more than just name, address, and phone number. Personal information can include
things like who their friends are, names of pets, favorite hobbies and other things which might identify
who they are and where they live.
Security and Privacy
Discussions on social media use begin at the same points as discussions of how to act in public, being
careful what we say (what we post), treating people well, and avoiding strangers, are all life lessons that
apply to social media as well. However one key point applies to nearly all safety strategies: Online
privacy isn’t really private.
Anything that gets posted, regardless of the privacy settings which are used may become public. This is
because we can’t control what people with access to our information will do with it.
To maximize online privacy and security it is important to become familiar with the available settings on
the programs your children are on. In order to help teach them to understand the use and importance
of using privacy settings, family rules should be established which focus on dialogue and understanding
which sites are important to your children.
Parents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with security and parental/privacy settings as a way to
address whatever questions their children may have and to set a good example through their own
online activity.
Look everywhere on a social media page for settings. Sometimes they are hidden and not
necessarily all contained within the privacy settings options.
Keep an eye out for options that control who can see what is posted, and who can request to be
a ‘friend.’ It is best to have these types of settings set to high security.
Be involved and take an interest in who your children interact with online, as well as what those
people can see.
Discourage the use of “check-in” sites. These social media sites (like Foursquare,) have users
identify where they are when they make posts. These can be especially dangerous as they reveal
to the world where the person is located.
Cyberbullying is the use of online or digital technology to harass or send hurtful messages to another
person. Cyberbullying is targeted and repeated, and often occurs through social media websites, instant
messaging applications, emails, and text messages.
One of the major problem with cyberbullying is that it’s often more intense than traditional bullying as it
can be anonymous and persist for months or years. The challenge with cyberbullying is that the laws
surrounding it are sometimes unclear, which can enable it to go unnoticed, unreported, or not dealt
with at all.
In many regions (for example, Ontario), schools have a duty to address and deal with reported
cyberbullying as if it happened at school during the school day, regardless of where or when it actually
happened. What this means is that students can potentially face punishments at school such as
suspension or even expulsion for this type of activity.
Cyberbullying usually occurs in young children through name-calling but can often escalate into the
spreading of malicious rumours and ‘flaming’ (trying to get a reaction from somebody usually through
negative messages or posts).
As children become teenagers cyberbullying often escalates to persistent harassment, sexual
harassment, inappropriate commenting, and posts intended to damage someone’s reputation or selfworth.
In order to address this behaviour, children need to be talked to about the seriousness of online
bullying, and the importance of being careful about what they post and how they interact with others
online. Children need to be careful about what they say online because people often can’t tell if we’re
joking or serious online. It is important to reinforce that their friends can’t hear their tone of voice
through the computer, so we really don’t know how they will react to what is said.
Parents are encouraged to become involved in their children’s online lives. Asking questions about
whether or not they’re experiencing anything unusual online is important, as cyberbullying often goes
undetected, with potentially disastrous results.
It is important that we keep two points in mind when we talk to children about cyberbullying:
1) Many victims of cyberbullying never tell anyone about it because they may be afraid to be treated as
if they are at fault.
2) Some cyberbullying happens unintentionally; so we need to underline the importance of thinking
carefully before posting or making comments about others.
If a child is being cyberbullied it is important to deal with the core issue rather than the media or
website through which it occurs. Resist the urge to recommend ‘not going online,’ as this is simply
avoiding the issue. Instead, report the content, and attempt to resolve the issue in an offline forum the
same way you would offline bullying.
Strangers and Predators
While the Internet makes it easy for children to play and chat with their friends, what some of them
don’t realize or consider is that online “friends” are not really friends, unless they know them from their
offline lives. Since we’re free on most social media sites to create profiles that say anything we want
about ourselves, the strangers children interact with online can easily hide the fact that they are
Strangers and predators use anonymity to appear friendly. They dig up information about children which
could put them in serious danger. This can happen on any social media site and to a child of any age. A
friendly statement such as, “I go to school with a person you play basketball with” may be accepted
without really knowing or questioning who that person truly is.
There are strangers online, just like offline, and the goal is to encourage children to be careful and to
avoid contact with these people. Blocking, ignoring, and avoiding questions, and telling an adult about
them are simple ways which children can stay safer when approached by an online stranger.
Parents should set rules about who can and can’t be online friends with their children, and set
reasonable consequences if the strangers are added, explaining that there are dangers in adding people
who are not really known offline.
Ask questions about who their online friends are, the same way they would ask about offline friends.
Even online, the parental message needs to be loud and clear to children: “Don’t talk to strangers, and
do not add them as friends.”
Websites often use “friendly” language – so children see things like “friends” lists, not “stranger” or
“people” lists, and often assume that people on these lists are not a threat. Teaching children never to
agree to meet someone they only know online and taking steps to avoid contact with these people are
proactive ways to be there before a problem occurs.
Gaming and Addiction
Whether on social media, gaming, or just technology use in general, there runs a serious risk of a child
spending too much time on the computer or another device.
While addiction is a serious risk to consider, it is important to weigh activity, benefit, and time in your
child’s life. By being involved in multiple aspects of their online time, it is important as a parent to set
rules including how much time is acceptable on all activities and programs. Put specific rules and
consequences surrounding usage in place and be consistent. If it seems like the Internet is taking too
much of a child’s time or having a negative impact on their life, then there may be an issue.
It is important to realize that most games these days incorporate a social media aspect as well. They
allow players to create profiles, connect to other players, and even hold conversations through chat,
text, or microphone.
If children feel that all of their activities are being treated as the same, and if they fear losing access to
the ‘good’ aspects of social media and computer time they may not talk to you should a serious issue
Parents should carefully look at the time their children spend online based on what they are actually
doing. Parents should set times and rules for homework, chatting, playing games, etc. as opposed to
lumping it all together into ‘computer time’.
Pay close attention to the maturity rating on games and websites and play an active role in
which ones are acceptable for your children.
Games which have a focus on teamwork, collaboration, and problem solving have been shown
to have a beneficial impact on adolescent development.
Set limits on online time as a family. Set time limits just like you would for any other activities in
your child’s life.
Be consistent with the enforcement of online rules and consequences for breaking them.
Tips for Children
1. Don’t say anything online if you wouldn’t say it in real life.
2. Be careful what you say online even to your friends – they can’t see you so they may not know if
you are joking or serious.
3. Avoid using abusive or hurtful language online. You never know who is seeing or reading what
you post.
4. Ask for your parents help to set privacy settings to control what people can see about you
5. Keep your personal information to yourself. Never share your name, address, or pictures with
people who you don’t know.
6. Think twice before you post anything online. Remember: everything that you post stays online
7. Only chat and play with people online who you’ve been introduced to in real life, by an adult or
someone you trust.
8. Never agree to meet an online friend face-to-face. The “friend” may not be a nice person.
9. Follow the rules that are set about using technology. They are there to help stay safe while
having fun.
10. Tell a grownup if you see something online that makes you scared, upset, or uncomfortable.
Tips for Teens
1. Be considerate and friendly online, just like you would be offline.
2. Remember, anything that you say or post online can’t be taken back, because once
someone sees it they may copy or share it with other people.
3. Understand that there are real consequences to things we do online, for yourself and
others. Schools and employers use social media to screen candidates!
4. Contribute to the Internet in a positive way and create profiles of yourself that leave a
good impression of who you are.
5. Just because you can post anything you want online, doesn’t mean that you should!
Think carefully before choosing what to post.
6. Respect other people’s online work, and make sure to give credit when using something
that someone else has posted.
7. Remember that the Internet and social media is not anonymous even though it may
seem like it sometimes. Other people can always find out who you are.
8. Don’t share passwords or private information with others, not even with your friends.
You don’t know what they may choose to do with the information.
9. Work with your parents to set and follow rules that keep the Internet fun and social,
while helping them understand you know how to use it safely.
10. Speak up and tell an adult if someone says or does something online that makes you
Tips for Parents
Most of our children are on the Internet every day. Here are some tips that will help you foster a healthy
and safe Internet experience for your family:
1. Set rules about the Internet for your child’s safety and best interest. Work together to create
reasonable standards that work for the whole family.
2. Do not threaten to take away the use of the Internet completely. Set reasonable consequences
when/if your child breaks the rules.
3. Encourage open communication about your child’s online activities. Show your children you are
willing to listen, even if you do not have all the answers.
4. Do not overreact or place judgement when your child comes to you with a problem he/she has
faced online. Work with him/her to find a solution.
5. Be tech-savvy and stay informed with the changing technology your children use. Make use of
Internet safety resources like to stay up to date.
6. Set a good example by being aware of what you are posting online. Model the behaviour for the
way you want your child to act online.
7. Keep the computer in a common area of the house. Make yourself available when your children
are online, until they are old enough to use the Internet unsupervised.
8. Know your children’s online friends. It is important to know who your children are speaking to
online and ensure that they never meet anyone in person without your permission.
9. Teach what you know. The Internet is a new medium for traditional parenting lessons. Bullies,
strangers and harsh content online exist just like in the real world.
10. Involve your children when designing your family’s Internet safety strategy. Make an agreement
about understanding the roles and responsibilities of being online.
Glossary of Terms:
Blacklisiting: Blacklisting is a method many parental control systems use to block online content
from connecting with their computers. Blacklisting can involve blocking websites, online media and
applications that require an Internet connection through the use of key terms or specific URLs.
Blog: A blog (derived from Internet Log) is a Website (or part of another Website) that is updated
periodically. Blogs are usually maintained by a single person or a group of people whose updates will
includes news, commentary and a selection of media.
Bookmark: Just like a bookmark that is used to save your page in a book, an online bookmark saves
online pages. You can do this by using the bookmark feature on your browser, or through a social
bookmarking Website like Digg or StumbleUpon.
Browser: A browser is a software application that allows you to retrieve online information. In other
words, it is the application you use to visit Websites, surf the Internet and run other online
Chatroom: Chatroom is a term typically used to describe online group conferences hosting on a
specific Website designed for chatroom use. It can also be used to refer to group chats over instant
messaging applications and through online forums.
Chat Acronyms: Chats, games and social media have all developed their own form of acronyms or
online short-hand. A few common acronyms are listed below:
- ASL (Age/Sex/Location)
- BRB (Be Right Back)
- CD9 (Code 9, parents around)
- JK (Just kidding)
- F2T (Free To Talk)
- IDK (I don’t know)
- LGH (let’s get high)
- LMIRL (Let’s meet in real life)
- LOL (Laugh out loud)
- MorF (Male or Female)
- PRON (Pornography)
- TMI (Too Much Information)
Cookie: A cookie automatically sends information through your browser to websites. Cookies are
not software, however they can present a privacy concern if we are not careful about the
information posted on our accounts.
Cyberbully: A Cyberbully is a person who uses online and digital means to harass and send hurtful
messages to another person. Often times, this type of bullying occurs through social media
websites, instant messaging applications, emails, games, and text messages.
Digg: Digg is a social news Website that allows people to find the most popular stories on the
Internet. With a function to vote news up or down, users can contribute to the Website by liking or
disliking posts.
Digital Citizenship: Digital citizenship is the online standards of appropriate, responsible behavior
with regard to any digital technology use. It is the norm how we conduct ourselves to be safe,
contributing, educated Internet users.
Digital Footprint: A digital footprint is the online trail a person leaves behind on the Internet,
including all of their online interactions with people, media and Websites. A person’s digital
footprint can provide a great deal of information to online marketing companies to better
understand online habits. When it comes to social media, a digital footprint refers to how large or
small a person’s presence is online, including how many and how active a person is on social
Digital Legacy: A digital legacy is an extension of a digital footprint. It is the impact which the
material and content we post online has both on ourselves and the lasting online community after
we post it.
Digital Literacy: Digital literacy is a gauge of ability to identify, understand, interpret, create,
communicate, and ask questions regarding online or digital media. It is a progress of developing
knowledge and learning.
Download: A download is the act of copying data (which can include media files, programs,
documents, etc.) from one computer to another.
Email: Email, or Electronic mail, is a form of electronic communication that allows computer users to
transmit messages through the Internet to another user.
Facebook: Facebook is a social network that connects registered users to friends, family and
coworkers. The network gives each user their own profile page, and through the news of Facebook’s
news feed and timeline, users can find out what all their online friends are up to.
Facebook Places: Facebook Places is a feature of Facebook in which users can “check-in” to tell their
friends where they are and who they are with.
Filtering Software: Filtering software are applications for your computer that allow you to filter
online content. Most software use keywords to filter content, however many will also use specific
permitted and blocked URLs to control what can be viewed.
Firewall: Firewalls are programs that help keep a computer safe against threats such as viruses and
spamware by preventing what can access the computer off of the network.
Flickr: Flickr is a social network that serves as an image and video host. Users can upload their
photos and videos on Flickr, and easily share them with their online community.
Foursquare: Foursquare is a location-based social network where users can “check-in” to tell their
friends where they are. Through the check-ins, users are rewarded with mayorships and badges,
based on where they check-in and the frequency of their visits.
Google: Google is a large company whose products involve online search, cloud computing and
social networking. Google is mostly known for their search engine, which allows users to find pages
relevant to a topic search. Google also owns YouTube.
Gowalla: Gowalla is a location-based social network. Users can check-in virtually to “spots” -- or
their own specific location (i.e. coffee shop, concert, sports bar, etc.). Through the check-ins, users
will often be rewarded with virtual “items” which are typically promotional tools.
Hacker: A hacker is a person who is able to break through a computer, account, or network’s
security walls. Typically this involves some form of malicious or damaging activity upon the accessed
system or information.
Hyperlinks: A hyperlink (commonly called a link) is a data reference point that users are able to
follow from one page to another. Typically, a hyperlink is embedded within text or media that users
are able to click to and then be redirected to a new page.
Instant Messages: An Instant Message (IM) is a message that is sent over the Internet in real-time.
These messages are typically sent over chat applications like Skype or Windows Live, or in chat
Internet Service Provider: An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that provides homes and
other spaces with access to the Internet.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a business related social networking site primarily designed and dedicated to
professional networking. Users can upload their resume, professional history, and connect to
coworkers, colleagues, and contacts.
Malware: Malware (Malicious Software) are applications designed to disrupt an online experience
and gather information about users, which often times infringes on privacy. Malware can be
unknowingly downloaded to your computer system by visiting certain types of Websites or through
other downloads.
MMORPG: A MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game is a type of online game
in which players are able to interact with each other in a virtual world. Each player creates a
character for him or herself and uses said character to engage in adventures with other players in a
fantastical world.
Monitoring Software: Monitoring software is a computer application that allows parents to monitor
their children’s online activity.
MSN Messenger: MSN Messenger, now known as Windows Live Messenger, is an online chat
application by Microsoft.
MySpace: MySpace is a social networking Website that allows people to interact with each other
through their own profile pages. This network is largely used for music-related purposes and is
currently undergoing major changes.
Netiquette: Netiquette (Internet Etiquette) is a term used to describe a certain type of etiquette
that online users should abide by. This includes social interactions between emails, blog comments,
and social media.
Parental Controls: Parental controls are software applications that allow parents to control where
and how frequently their children can surf online. These types of software often include features
such as whitelisting, blacklisting, time constraints, and monitoring reports.
Phishing: Phishing is a technique used to acquire online user information such as usernames,
passwords or credit card information. A typical phishing scam will occur through emails which claim
to be from a trusted source, asking users to enter a fake Website.
Photobucket: Photobucket is an image and video hosting Website that allows users to upload their
files and easily share them online.
Podcast: A podcast is a non-streamed webcast that are usually in the form of audio files which are
released periodically in episodes. Podcasts can be compared to radio shows.
Search Engine: A search engine is a Website with the functionality of being able to search the entire
Internet using key words and specific search terms.
Sexting: Sexting (sexual texting) is a specific type of messaging. Originally referring to text messages,
sexting now also includes sexual messages or nude photos sent over email or through social media
Smartphone: A smartphone is a type of mobile phone that is equipped with computing capabilities
such as Internet browsing and document creation which is typically Internet enabled.
Social Media: Social media refers to a specific type of Website with a social focus. Social media
Websites allow registered users to interact with each other through profile pages and messaging
Spam: Spam is a word used to describe unsolicited messages received online. Spam is often sent
through email or social media Websites.
Streaming: Streaming is a way to view or listen to media online without having to download a file.
StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon is a discover engine that finds Internet pages based on your personal
interests. Users can contribute to the website by adding their own online “discoveries” and voting
for or against the Websites they visit.
Twitter: Twitter is a social networking website that allows users to communicate through 140character messages.
URL: A URL (Uniform Resource Location) is the specific Internet address of a single page.
Virus: A virus is a digital infection that can embed itself in a computer or networking system.
Computer viruses can easily replicate themselves and spread from one computer to the next,
attacking specific aspects such as your hard drive.
Whitelisting: When referring to the Internet, whitelisting is a feature that selects a specific list of
allowed Websites and online applications that are granted access to your computer. Whitelisting is a
popular feature of parental controls and is the opposite of blacklsiting.
YouTube: YouTube is a video hosting social network owned by Google. Users can browse through
videos, upload their own and create lists of their favorites. YouTube also includes other social
networking features such as commenting.