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Posts Tagged ‘cyberbullying’

Removing Racist and Hateful Comments: A Simple Relevancy Test

Posted by Marti Weston on March 16, 2012

Click to hear Tyler's dad reading a statement after the jury returned its verdict.

After the jury announced its verdict in New Jersey I watched Associated Press video statement read by Tyler Clementi’s father. Sad and clearly with a heavy heart, he nevertheless looked to the future in a way that most of us could not have done had we lost a child the way he lost Tyler. Then I glanced down at the YouTube comments — just about every one included a gay slur or offensive language, and I was disgusted. The comments were not relevant.

Racist and hateful online comments demean writers, video-makers, and people who thoughtfully share digital content. It’s becoming tiresome. Masquerading as run-of-the-mill responses at the end of articles and videos – they are actually cyber-bullies’ remarks left here and there with the goal of offending and hurting others. The time has long past for comment and blog editors everywhere  – but especially at Google’s YouTube — to set up and enforce guidelines.

I know that the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of speech; however, it’s not freedom of speech we are observing but freedom to run off at the mouth and bully others in ways that are not relevant to the content. As a result we are teaching all sorts of silent lessons — the kind we don’t really intend to teach to young people as they grow up.

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Posted in 21st Century Learning, commenting, conversations on commenting, cyber-bullying, digital citizenship, digital parenting, family conversations, parent education, parents and technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Bullying and Cyber-bullying: Myths and Reality

Posted by Marti Weston on January 6, 2011

Read Five Myths About Bullying in the December 30, 2010 Washington Post. While the media focuses on the high-profile cases of bullying and cyber-bullying, the author of this article, Susan M. Swearer, a co-author of Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools, writes that the relentless coverage may distract schools and parents from more traditional types of bullying. While technology has made bullying worse, a significant  number of students are bullied without the use of technology.  The author points out that:

While it’s hard to stereotype bullying behavior in every school in every town in America, experts agree that at least 25 percent of students across the nation are bullied in traditional ways: hit, shoved, kicked, gossiped about, intimidated or excluded from social groups.

The article mentions and links to several programs that have been successful at reducing bullying behavior. Swearer, who is an associate professor of school psychology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, points out that, “…when awareness of bullying becomes as much a part of school culture as reverence for athletics or glee club, we’ll have a shot at finally stopping it.”

Posted in digital parenting, good books to read, parent education, parents and technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Tragedy of Tyler Clementi

Posted by Marti Weston on October 2, 2010

No words console a family when a child dies, especially a loss caused by cruel and bigoted peers who don’t comprehend digital world distinctions between right and terribly wrong. A much-loved boy, a gifted musician, a young man who made others smile and relax with beautiful music — and whose sexual identity was no one’s business but his own, even in the confusing milieu of a freshman college dorm — is dead.

For the rest of us — parents, teachers, religious leaders, and other adults — much can be said. Tyler Clementi’s suicide dramatically illustrates, yet again, the youth disconnect between privacy as we knew it in the past and the increasingly few layers that protect us today. With no clear definition of privacy, children, adolescents, and even young adults perceive few behavior boundaries –those lines in the sand that delineate the ethical from the unethical, the fun from the vicious. How many more children do we have to lose?

Whatever can we do?

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Posted in acceptable use, cultural changes, digital citizenship, digital parenting, parents and technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Power of Instant Images: Digital Photography Series, Part I

Posted by Marti Weston on September 27, 2010

So your child has a new digital camera or phone, a birthday or holiday present, or a just-for-fun gift, and photos are now speeding through the virtual world in every direction — via e-mail to friends, in a Flickr album, attached to a text message, and highlighting social networking comments. Before too many pictures find they way to these and other locations, take some time for a digital photo-taking orientation — a review of guidelines and expectations. Today’s world is a vastly different place, nothing like the photo-taking environment that most adults remember from their younger days, and photos can end up in unanticipated places or cause unforseen problems.

Photography in the last ten years or so has undergone extraordinary changes. No longer do we buy and load film. Nor do we wait a few days for processing to look at our pictures. Today instant access, in terms of speed and range of circulation, defines photography. Pair this speed with the occasional child or adolescent misjudgment, and an image becomes public in moments. This impulsive image sharing can cause hurt feelings, anger, and even accusations of cyber-bullying.

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Posted in acceptable use, digital parenting, digital photography, image evaluation, media literacy, parents and technology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Back-to-School Digital Reading Assignment, #1

Posted by Marti Weston on July 27, 2010

Today’s Digital Parent Reading Assignment is an article, Rumors, Cyberbullying and Anonymity, appearing in a July 22, 2010, column by New York Times technology writer David Pogue. The article is his interview with Harvard Law Professor John Palfrey, one of the directors of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In question and answer format, the interview ranges over some of the significant and critical technology issues that concern parents: rumors, cyberbullying, digital literacy (knowing what is credible), the opportunity to for anonymity, and the online social lives of pre-adolescents and teens. Professor Palfrey is a co-author of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s). When he describes the way digital natives (our children) behave, Dr. Palfrey comments that he studies “… how young people use technology, how they relate to one another. And one of the big things is they’ve moved their social lives, by and large, online.”

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Pay Attention to Potential for Cyber-bullying Before it Starts

Posted by Marti Weston on June 28, 2010

An article in today’s New York Times, Online Bullies Pull Schools into the Fray, describes the enormous difficulties that texting, e-mail, Facebook, and other unlimited online activities cause for Middle School students, their parents, and their schools. Take some time to read it and reflect.

My reflection leads me to think that while cyber-bullying is the immediate problem, the larger issue is the need to change the way parents and their children think about digital tools. While me must always address problems, it seems way too late to effectively change errant digital behavior in Middle School if students have not received years of training in the art of digital citizenship long before they arrive in sixth grade.

Behavior and digital behavior go hand-in-hand. Parents regularly address civil, polite, and respectful behavior from the moment a child arrives at his or her first play-group. Does digital behavior get the same parental attention? The moment a child sits at a computer or sees mom and dad working on e-mail, the citizenship lessons should extend to the digital world. If the conversation does not start until a child gets a phone that texts and takes pictures — an entertaining toy from perspective of the youngster — it is way to late.

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Posted in acceptable use, cell phones, digital citizenship, online safety, parents and technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »