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July 29, 2014 0

Embracing Technology, Challenging Cyberbullying

If you have been review­ing any num­ber of par­ent­ing or edu­ca­tion blogs lately, you’ll see head­lines pro­claim­ing the men­ace and dan­gers of tech­nol­ogy.  Tech­nol­ogy, and more specif­i­cally, social media and mobile apps are often treated like “mon­sters” to guard against and the cre­ators of all mat­ter of social ills.  Even if tech­nol­ogy is scary and daunt­ing to some adults, for youth it is a nec­es­sary and pos­i­tive part of life.  In addi­tion to using tech­nol­ogy for home­work and research, teens use tech­nol­ogy as a part of an active and com­plex social life. Of youth  12–18 years old, 78% have cell­phones and 74% are mobile inter­net users.

Family taking picture with mobile phone (iStock_000041774914)

That is not to say that there are not valid issues and con­cerns related to tech­nol­ogy. Dis­re­spect, bul­ly­ing and bias are all expe­ri­ences which still exist for youth, and tech­nol­ogy adds dif­fer­ent modal­i­ties for it to spread.  From our van­tage point,the real men­ace in our soci­ety is igno­rance and apa­thy, and adults can slay the metaphoric mon­ster with edu­ca­tion and empathy-building.

Being thought­ful, kind, using humor in good ways and devel­op­ing skills to be an effec­tive ally are all social­iz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and hold valu­able lessons for youth. Adults have the oppor­tu­nity to explore, learn along­side and guide youth to uti­lize tech­nol­ogy and social media sites in respect­ful and pos­i­tive ways, teach­ing youth to be an active part of cre­at­ing an inclu­sive online world as well as behav­ing in ways to keep them­selves safe.

Edu­cat­ing youth about online behav­ior is not just about “bully-proofing” them; it’s about doing your part so that your young per­son isn’t the aggres­sor or a bystander in acts of cyber cru­elty or cyber­bul­ly­ing.   Here are some ideas to cul­ti­vate online ally behav­ior for youth in your life:

  •  Adopt a pos­i­tive atti­tude about tech­nol­ogy and social media. The over­whelm­ing major­ity of youth are uti­liz­ing tech­nol­ogy in pos­i­tive ways. If you always speak neg­a­tively about this aspect of their life, you are dis­miss­ing an impor­tant aspect of their life.
  •  Show humil­ity if you are unsure about how some­thing works online. Ask ques­tions that broaden your under­stand­ing and don’t ver­bal­ize any judg­ments when you are learn­ing.  Con­sider appoint­ing or hir­ing a “youth guru” to fill you in on the lat­est and great­est apps and social media sites. Or stay con­nected with our Grown Folks Guide to Pop­u­lar Apps in Social Media.
  •  Ask more ques­tions, use lec­tures spar­ingly. For exam­ple: Why do you think some peo­ple think its ok to make jokes about someone’s race or reli­gion? What kind of place does the inter­net become if no one cares about  the words they choose?
  •  When you see biased online stereo­typ­ing, jokes, memes or videos online– dis­cuss them openly. Anti-bias edu­ca­tion with youth requires ongo­ing dis­cus­sion. You don’t have to have all of the answers, but one impor­tant les­son can be made clear: it’s not ok.
  • Reg­u­larly share exam­ples of youth stand­ing up and being allies. The mes­sage you send is “I love this behav­ior, and I want to see this from you.”
  • Teach youth that report­ing is not the same as “snitch­ing.” Many youth under­stand that hurt­ful com­ments and posts are the wrong thing to do, but many youth believe “snitch­ing” is worse. Help­ing youth to under­stand that report­ing hurt­ful com­ments, and espe­cially threat­en­ing com­ments, is an inte­gral part of cre­at­ing safe spaces online. ADL’s Cyber-Safety Action Guide can help you nav­i­gate how to report con­cerns to ser­vice providers.

For more resources on how to pre­vent and inter­vene in bul­ly­ing and cyber­bul­ly­ing, inter­net guide­lines, and infor­ma­tion on cyber­bul­ly­ing warn­ing signs– visit our Fam­i­lies and Care­giver Resources List.

 

 

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January 13, 2014 0

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

Five Tips for Work­ing with Chil­dren, Tweens, and Teens 

Martin Luther King Jr.

As we honor Mar­tin Luther King Jr.’s legacy through the National Day of Ser­vice on Jan­u­ary 20, 2014, we encour­age teach­ers, par­ents and fam­i­lies to pro­vide com­mu­nity ser­vice oppor­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren and youth.  Below are tips to help make the expe­ri­ence meaningful.

 

“Every­body can be great…because any­body can serve. You don’t have to have a col­lege degree to serve. You don’t have to make your sub­ject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul gen­er­ated by love.”

—Mar­tin Luther King Jr.

 

1.     Gen­er­ate ser­vice learn­ing ideas from chil­dren and youth.

Engage young peo­ple in a dis­cus­sion and brain­storm­ing ses­sion about their com­mu­nity, encour­ag­ing them to think crit­i­cally about its most impor­tant assets and what areas need more sup­port. The more buy-in youth have from the begin­ning, the more invest­ment they will have in the project, and it will have a more last­ing effect on them and their communities.

 

2.     Think beyond com­mu­nity ser­vice to social action.

While it is impor­tant for youth to help oth­ers, the expe­ri­ence will have more mean­ing if they see the big pic­ture.  It is one thing to spend a few hours at a home­less shel­ter dis­trib­ut­ing lunch;  take the ser­vice project to another level by help­ing young peo­ple under­stand why peo­ple are home­less and what they can do about it.  Engage youth in social-action strate­gies, such as writ­ing let­ters; social media cam­paigns, includ­ing online peti­tions and dona­tions; engag­ing in advo­cacy to get a law or bill passed; cre­at­ing PSAs (pub­lic ser­vice announce­ments); and deliv­er­ing speeches.

 

3.     Use the expe­ri­ence as an oppor­tu­nity to build empathy.

Ser­vice pro­vides a rich oppor­tu­nity for youth to develop empa­thy for oth­ers, espe­cially those who are in need.  As they are serv­ing, make sure young peo­ple see the com­plex­ity and human­ity in the peo­ple they serve.  Pre­pare chil­dren for the expe­ri­ence by answer­ing their ques­tions, lis­ten­ing to their fears and dis­pelling their misconceptions.

 

4.     Be aware of bias-related lan­guage and be care­ful not to per­pet­u­ate stereotypes.

Make sure the expe­ri­ence helps youth con­nect with the peo­ple they are serv­ing rather than per­pet­u­ate stereo­types. Address think­ing that focuses on pity or sim­plis­tic under­stand­ing of people’s cir­cum­stances. Guide to move beyond think­ing of peo­ple as the “other” (i.e., “not one of us”) to under­stand­ing and respect­ing their human­ity.. Remind youth to use lan­guage that does not equate peo­ple with their char­ac­ter­is­tics or actions (i.e., say “peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, not “dis­abled peo­ple”; say “youth who bully,” rather than “bullies”).

 

5.     Inspire chil­dren and youth to change the world.

Con­vey the mes­sage to youth that they can change the world.  Even a small, one-time action of help­ing their neigh­bors and com­mu­ni­ties can have a deep impact on a young person.

 

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January 18, 2013 1

ADL Workshop Cultivates Ally Behavior Online

Over the past few years the media has cov­ered many sto­ries about cyber­bul­ly­ing and its detri­men­tal effects on youth.  The research, and our own expe­ri­ences, make it clear that cyber­bul­ly­ing hurts the youth tar­geted and cre­ates a neg­a­tive expe­ri­ence for those who wit­ness the behav­ior.   We also know that youth are often tar­geted online because of their iden­tity, includ­ing their weight, real or per­ceived sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der expres­sion, reli­gion and race.

To help address issues of cyber­bul­ly­ing, ADL’s AWORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Insti­tute cre­ated Cyber­ALLY®, a half-day (3-hour) or full-day (6-hour) inter­ac­tive train­ing for mid­dle and high school-age youth that pro­vides prac­ti­cal infor­ma­tion and oppor­tu­ni­ties for skill-building.  Cyber­ALLY sup­ports youth in devel­op­ing per­sonal strate­gies for pro­tect­ing them­selves against cyber­bul­ly­ing as well as act­ing as cyberallies—preventing and tak­ing action against cyber­bul­ly­ing and social cru­elty in online forum.

We recently con­ducted a research eval­u­a­tion of Cyber­AL­LYto assess the effec­tive­ness of the train­ing pro­gram and gain insight into areas for improve­ment.  Funded by Cir­cle of Ser­vice and Microsoft, we con­tracted with an eval­u­a­tion research firm, TCC Group, to design and con­duct the eval­u­a­tion.  With TCC Group, we iden­ti­fied in research terms the out­comes we hoped to achieve with Cyber­ALLY:  1) aware­ness and knowl­edge about cyber­bul­ly­ing, 2) demon­stra­tion of respon­si­ble and eth­i­cal online behav­ior, and 3) abil­ity to be a CyberALLY.

The data analy­sis shows highly sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant improve­ment in all three out­come areas, indi­cat­ing that the Cyber­ALLY pro­gram is effec­tively equip­ping stu­dents to take action against cyber­bul­ly­ing. The stu­dents showed the great­est improve­ment in the out­come “the abil­ity to be a cyber­ally.”  Some spe­cific find­ings include: 93% of stu­dents indi­cated that they learned dif­fer­ent strate­gies for respond­ing to cyber­bul­ly­ing and online bias and 81% indi­cated that “all kids my age should par­tic­i­pate in this work­shop.”  By chang­ing the cul­ture from one of pas­sive bystanders to one of active cyber­al­lies, we can change the way stu­dents inter­act online. In all, the results of this eval­u­a­tion have shown that ADL is con­tribut­ing to fur­ther­ing the  over­all goal of fos­ter­ing increased cyber-civility and a cul­ture of e-safety among our youth.

For spe­cific strate­gies on how you can be a cyber­ally and address bias and bul­ly­ing online, visit www.adl.org/combatbullying.

 

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