Let’s Teach Children How to Comment

Knowing how to write a comment that is appropriate for different online settings is a critical literacy skill for 21st Century children (and also for many of their parents). Too often young comment writers end up fervently wishing they had thought a bit more about what they posted.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.53.29 PMEducators and parents need to pay serious attention to the commenting lives of kids. While the World Wide Web and social media offer young children, pre-adolescents, and teens nearly unlimited opportunities to comment and express their opinions, problems occur when young people do not possess the impulse control skills for such unrestricted access.                             Continue reading

Encouraging Digital Kids to Write Polished Comments

commenting sprialPart of becoming a strong 21st Century digital learner is mastering the art of writing and sharing comments online.

If you read comments at the end of articles or blog postings — even at some of the respected newspapers and magazines — you have surely discovered more than a few inappropriate and sometimes distasteful remarks. Sometimes people leave these comments anonymously — individuals who do not understand why websites invite visitors to share thoughts and ideas. Sadly, many unfiltered remarks are permanently attached to websites — personal indiscretions (digital footprints) waiting for the whole world to discover. Even leaving an anonymous comment is not particularly secure, though many people — kids and adults — think they are off the hook and hiding when they leave comments without a name attached.

Read a short post and watch a video on newspaper comments, uploaded by the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard. Some newspapers sites, such as the Boston Globehave updated their policies and now post a short and succinct comment policy that tells users what the publication expects from comment writers.

Helping your child avoid public website blunders, not to mention future humiliation, is one reason to discuss commenting etiquette on a regular basis. Children don’t know or they forget that all comments leave digital footprint trails, little paths of information that last much longer than a child’s pre-adolescent and even teenage years.

Confusion arises because many children first encounter commenting opportunities in places where adult supervision is scarce. As a result an impulsive idea can beat out good common sense even when a child knows better. Bottom line — response and commenting areas are not places to leave nasty, sarcastic, rude, or hateful conversation.

Continue reading

Encouraging Digital Kids to Write Polished Comments

Comment

Part of becoming a strong 21st Century digital learner is mastering the art of writing and sharing comments online.

If you read comments at the end of articles or blog postings, you have surely discovered more than a few inappropriate and sometimes distasteful remarks. Sometimes people leave these comments anonymously. Posted by folks who do not understand why websites invite visitors to share thoughts and ideas, many unfiltered remarks are permanently attached to websites — personal indiscretions waiting for the whole world to discover. Even leaving an anonymous comment is not particularly secure.

Read a short post and watch a video on newspaper comments, uploaded by the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard. Some newspapers sites, such as the Boston Globe, post a short and succinct comment policy with a link to a more detailed document.

Helping children avoid public website blunders is one reason to discuss commenting etiquette. Children don’t know or they forget that all comments leave digital footprint trails, little paths of information that last much longer than a child’s pre-adolescent and even teenage years.

Continue reading

Removing Racist and Hateful Comments: A Simple Relevancy Test

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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Conversations About Commenting

If you have ever written a comment at the end of an article or blog posting, you have surely read more than a few inappropriate and sometimes distasteful remarks. Sometimes people leave these comments anonymously. Posted by folks who do not understand why websites invite visitors to share thoughts and ideas, many unfiltered remarks are permanently attached to websites — indiscretions waiting for the whole world to discover.

Read a short post and watch a video on newspaper comments, uploaded by the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard. Some newspapers sites, such as the Boston Globe, post a short and succinct comment policy.

Helping your child avoid public website blunders is one reason to discuss commenting etiquette. Often children don’t know or forget that their comments leave a digital footprint trail that will last much longer than their per-adolescent and even teenage years.  Often confusion arises because many children first encounter commenting opportunities in places where adult supervision is scarce. As a result an impulsive idea can beat out good common sense even when a child knows better. Bottom line — response and commenting areas are not places to leave nasty, rude, and hateful conversation.

Continue reading