Posted in 21st Century life, 21st Century parenting, 21st Century teaching, digital citizenship, digital citizenship case study, evaluating news, hoax, parents and technology

Oh No! It’s MOMO! … Psssst — It’s a Hoax

Well my title says it all. I read, quite by accident, a crazy MoMo post by someone named Wanda —a scary, urgent, bang-on-the-drum essay. Then there was the video… I am pleased to say that my hoax antenna is pretty well-tuned, and my reaction was, “Here we go again.” In truth I also realized that something similar had been around the digital world a few times before. But since then I’ve watched it travel, once again all over the world.

A viral hoax travels around the world.

Both the New York Times and the Atlantic have published articles about the MoMo hoax. They are worth reading and sharing, so check them out.

I am stunned that guidance counselors, police departments, sheriffs, and all sorts of other community leaders, even a few national leaders  (ummm, not to mention parents) did not do their media literacy evaluation homework before they responded, no freaked out.          

So now, due to these responses, this hoax is everywhere — again. Search for digital kids or digital parenting and — surprise — MoMo pops up at the top of the searches. Someone needs to start a consulting practice that teaches media literacy and critical evaluation skills to local leaders and law enforcement.

However, today a silver lining appeared in the form of a school’s exquisite response, and here I need to express my gratitude to friend and former colleague, Sarah Hannawald, for bringing it to my attention. She shared an insightful community blog published by a school in New Jersey, The Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child. The piece, written by Alex Podchaski, the school’s Chief Technology Officer, gets it right. First, it debunks the MoMo hoax, then it offers a range of well-respected sources for parents, pointing out that it’s been around before, but then the post goes on to illustrate how to use the situation as a real-live case study and digital citizenship exercise. Podchaski writes:

As educators, we spend a great deal of time trying to figure out the best way to prepare our students for the challenges they will face, both in the real and the digital worlds. Many times we have to deal with the theoretical, as we can’t always create the proper real world scenarios to take all the aspects of instruction into account during a given situation. For many of us, we have embraced the concepts of digital citizenship, trying to help our communities navigate the difference between behaviors and actions online and in real life… But the real test of what we are teaching is not how we respond to the manufactured situation, but how we then address something that happens for real.
            Read the whole blog post:  http://blog.oakknoll.org/turning-a-viral-hoax-into-a-lesson-on-internet-safety?

Yes! Oak Knoll is using a real-life hoax — one that is firing up the world — as a real-life opportunity to teach its school community about making smart decisions and fine-tuning critical media literacy evaluations skills.  Well done!

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