Posted in 21st Century life, hateful comments, offensive speech, parents and technology

Teaching Children (and Adults) to Extricate Themselves from Offensive Situations

Expressing hate is so easy with just a few taps on the keyboard.
Expressing hate is so easy with just a few comments or taps on the keyboard. Develop strategies to contain it.

Can a person learn how to respond to an offensive or hateful situation? Can adults help 21st Century young people master the skills? Earlier this fall I wrote a post, Is Hate Speech Here to Stay?, wondering if up-front, in-your-face hate and offensive speech will be a continuing problem in our connected world.

Recently a New York Times article, Lessons in the Delicate Art of Confronting Offensive Speech, described the challenges and awkwardness that individuals experience when they happen to hear or see a person engaging in offensive activity. The piece highlighted research about what occurs when people challenge offensive speech, and it suggests concrete steps that a person can take when confronted by offensive behavior or speech. The authors, Benedict Carey and Jan Hoffman, point out that researchers have consistently found that a person who makes the awful comments will often curb behavior when another expresses reservations or reacts in a more indirect way.

Continue reading “Teaching Children (and Adults) to Extricate Themselves from Offensive Situations”

Posted in 21st Century life, anonymity, anonymous apps, commenting, digital world reading habits, ethical behavior, hate groups on the web, online hate, parents and technology, raising digital kids

Is Hate Speech in the Connected World Here to Stay?

Expressing hate is so easy with just a few taps on the keyboard.
Expressing hate is takes just a few taps on a keyboard.

Hate speech has been around for a long time, but the connected world has amplified it. Sometimes hateful and threatening comments on social media and in comment sections feel like they are run-of-the-mill daily events. Sadly, Twitter, an awesome social media communications platform — one that I and many educators use and adore — has offered one of the easiest pathways for hate speech amplification. Twitter makes it easy to be “sort-of” anonymous.

For a good overview of Twitter’s online hate problems, take a few minutes to read Jim Rutenberg’s New York Times article, On Twitter, Hate Speech Bounded Only by a Character Limit. Rutenburg shares some of the hateful accusations he’s received and talks about the challenges that Twitter faces with so much hateful, accusatory, and threatening speech. He notes that Twitter, which is no longer growing its subscriber base, is now for sale. Gutenberg speculates on who might purchase it. “You have to wonder,” he writes, “whether the cap on Twitter’s growth is tied more to that basic — and base — of human emotions: hatred.”                                                    Continue reading “Is Hate Speech in the Connected World Here to Stay?”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, commenting, conversations on commenting, cyber-bullying, digital citizenship, digital parenting, family conversations, parent education, parents and technology

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.

Continue reading “Removing Racist and Hateful Comments: A Simple Relevancy Test”