Tagged: Internet safety

Media Literacy – By Sharyn Carroll

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Technology use is now intertwined with our lives so much that we live in a culture where we are constantly being bombarded with messages from the media at an alarming rate.  Our love of media is not a new one. According to the Halifax Insurance Digital Home Index, youth are now spending more time interacting with technology than they do with their families. But youth are not the only ones.  The adults in their intermediate soundings are modeling this new behavioural trend. We use the media for various reasons: to entrain, distract, gather information, educate, socialize, advocate and to connect with others.

Media literacy in this new way of life means being able to deconstruct the messages, not just for ourselves, but also for others in our lives.  By deconstructing the messages we understand the influence media has on culture and society and gain insight into the methods marketers employ to get our attention.  It is then that we can recognize misinformation and ‘spin’. When we are able to achieve this we can better evaluate these messages, advocate for change and create and distribute our own messages. How do we get there? By asking a few routine questions:

  • Who was the message created for and does the value system of the intended audience match the values conveyed in the message or is there a disconnect?
  • Can you easily identify who is the creator of the message?
  • Who is left out of the message?
  • Who else other than the target audience stands to be influenced by the message?
  • What are they trying to sell, inform or educate you about? Or simply put: what is the message telling me or leaving out?
  • Can I easily verify these messages?
  • What values or lifestyles are being portrayed or deleted in the message?
  • In the case of TV advertisement, is the time of day fitting to the target audience?
  • How does the message reinforce stereotypes?
  • How can the message be interpreted differently by different segments of the population?
  • How is the message constructed?
  • And most importantly: do you agree with what you’re seeing? If not, ask yourself why and talk to people that you are connected to about it.

It is important, in the case of youth, that we take the time to help them critically analyze what messages they are receiving and how media can easily set trends for healthy and unhealthy lifestyle choices.


By Sharyn Carroll, R + R Facilitator





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How Can We Dial Back the Technology? – by Kevin Vowles

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I’ve been working this summer on some amazing internet safety curricula for SWOVA.  It’s been yet another great opportunity to learn more about violence in our world, this time online.  It’s truly been an eye opener, because of course, I am 37, and grew up in an age where we didn’t really have today’s technology.  I only sent my first email when I went to University at the age of 19.  My first cell phone came in my last year there, and it was a really big deal to own one!  Of course now smart phones are super popular…and I am hooked like many people reading this right now.

The benefits of this technology are vast and numerous.  From booking accommodation or travel on the fly, to accessing Skype, email, Facebook, and even an old school compass, the smart phone really does it all.  There’s even a new app for Airbnb.com one of my favourite ways to travel to cool places and get great deals on accommodation.

 The technology is meant to connect us and make our lives easier.  But does it?

Last night I was standing around with some people in the small town in Spain where I’ve been living for the summer.  I have stopped carrying the phone out with me, because I am convinced that I’m actually missing something as opposed to gaining something.  I said to some Italian friends of mine, when you start speaking Italian, and I don’t understand, my first inclination is to pull out the phone, and see if there are any emails or Facebook chats.  I do this to feel connected, and a sense of belonging.  But does it really achieve that?  Perhaps I might have an email from someone I care about, sure.  But it also takes me out of the social interaction; out of the amazing social scene which in every second is unfolding before my very eyes.  We stand outside of a pub-restaurant that is over 1000 years old.   People have been standing outside socializing for 1000 years!  So I told my friends that I have stopped bringing the phone and I will attempt to suffer through the internal silence; appreciate the beauty of their language, scan the crowd for a friendly face; someone that I might be able to strike up a conversation with, instead of a glowing screen.  Low and behold it works, and I connect.

At the end of August I will return to Salt Spring Island from Tarifa where I have had the most remarkably social summer.  I’ve been out in coffee shops, bars, restaurants, gelato shops, the beach, in people’s cars (see the best hitch hiking experiences I’ve had on my blog [www.kevinvowles.wordpress.com]).  I’ve never felt more alive.  I’ve never felt more connected to people.

In an effort to continue feeling like a fully embodied human being, I shall return to my life on Salt Spring Island without an operational smart phone.  I will still have my computer, because I simply could not finish my degree or exist in the capacity I do as an R+R facilitator without it.  From the YouTube videos that I show to youth, to the emails from funders, and the fact that it is a phone, it’s invaluable.  So I’m not anti-technology, but when I walk down the hall of GISS or SIMS, I do want to be able to have a conversation with someone.  I don’t want to miss someone, or appear that I am too busy, to be approached.  I’ll do daily check-ins at the SWOVA office and hopefully reduce the large volume of often inefficient electronic communication.  I’ll be embracing my humanity in doing so, and realizing greater human connection.  Salt Spring Island is just the place to do this, and I’m confident I’ll even feel a little smarter by reducing my addiction to the internet.  I’m dialing it back a little!


by Kevin Vowles, R+R Facilitator and Trainer




Respect and the Internet – by Lynda Laushway


The days when etiquette encompassed topics such as who should open a door for who and how to set a table correctly, definitely predated the internet and social media.  We live in a whole new world now where communication is instantaneous and anonymous. When we communicate we are easily disguised. Not that we didn’t have ‘poison pen letters’ and other ways to defame people back then- it just didn’t happen at the speed and intensity that the internet has provided.  It also was generally less public, without thousands of viewers around the world ready to become voyeurs into public campaigns to humiliate and degrade someone and perhaps ‘jump on board’ while allowing the instigator to escape detection- and all of it with the click of a button.

It is the Wild West in cyberspace with no rules and no etiquette to guide us. In ‘the privacy of our own home’ the world of cyberspace can be one of disguise and deceit.    Here at SWOVA we have been mulling over this issue and asking ourselves’ “What does respect look like on the internet?” Supported by the Salt Spring Island Foundation and potentially the Canadian women’s Foundation, we will be developing new curriculum that addresses respect on the internet and how to support youth to stay safe and remain respectful in their relationships through this technology.

Some of the internet etiquette and safety that we will explore is:

  • Is it okay to end a relationship by e-mail or text?
  • How does respect relate to internet pornography and how does it affect our personal relationships?
  •  How does the respect that we show each other in our day-to-day relationships translate into the online world?
  • If miscommunication is happening online, when do we decide that we need to talk in person?

Youth have an important role to play in setting the guidelines that will help us all to know how to translate respectful behaviour into cyberspace.  There are a myriad of questions that need to be asked and we are beginning this important dialogue.


by Lynda Laushway – Executive Director, SWOVA


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