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They are natives of the Internet age, the most digitally connected demographic in history, and the fastest growing consumer segment of society – millennials are different. Their social interactions, friendships and experiences are mediated by digital technologies and they’ve never known any other way of life. They study, think and interact in fundamentally different ways from generations before them and they are ALREADY reshaping media consumption of today. In early May, a group of Toronto school kids participated in the Youth Summit where they spent the day learning and talking about the future of content. Listen to what they had to say!
A survey of media consumption among millennials has some of the results you’d expect. Millennials consume media all day through their smart phones – 90% have them – their tablets – 50% have them — and their computers – a 70/30% split between desktops and laptops. An overwhelming 92% consume video content online rather than on TV. Snapchat and Instagram are their applications of choice. They have varied taste in media consumption, and they’re actively going after new video content. These results aren’t surprising. The surprising part is that millennials have a far lower level of digital literacy and far fewer Internet skills than we would expect. Nicole Belanger, a writer and media maker, and Cathy Wing, of MediaSmarts, explain why.
Writer & Media Maker
Co-Executive Director, MediaSmarts
“Content makes you embrace your culture, your city, to promote your business, to challenge you, to share moments.”
“My personal takeaway here is that I think a better understanding of the relationships to these platforms will allow us to create content that is more appealing to [the millennials].”
“When we produce anything for youth, we’re working with them hand-in-hand to produce the resources. We also work really closely with industry partners…[For example,] you’ll see we produced this guide with Shaw that was just translated into Arabic…and distributed to 7500 new Syrian families in Canada, which was an amazing project.”
“We have this idea that kids…because they use everything in technology so effortlessly, so fluidly, they are naturally digitally literate. In fact our research shows that [this] is not the case at all…It’s important because they’re a vulnerable population, so it’s important that they [learn] the skills.”
“What we’re finding is that young people aren’t learning these [technology] skills either. They’re not learning them in school as much as we would like, but they’re also not picking them up. They’re not motivated enough to be picking them up on their own. They really like plug-and-play.”
“[Our segment,] ‘Standing up’ was based on some cyber bullying research that we did last year with PREVnet and TELUS. What we looked at were interventions that young people do, and how effective they are. The problem with cyber bullying is when we’re trying to get young people to stand up in bullying…For instance, you should stand up with your friends, and you should defend targets of bullying. Those are two moral principles that everybody can say are good, but they can come into conflict in situations, because situations are never clear cut.”
“…these kids have grown up with media but they still need a lot of guidance and advice from parents and teachers, and they ask us for that when we do the research. They asked for parents and teachers to be involved in teaching them these skills. There’s a role for us to play even though we think that [the millennials] know everything.”
Amanda: Hi, everybody and welcome. Thank you so much for joining us at this session on the Millennials which is so interesting. I’m a millennial so I’m like, “The Millennials,” if it sounds very formal. My name is Amanda Parris. I work with CBC Arts and the host of a television show called “Exhibitionist” and the writer for CBC arts as well too. I’m going to be your moderator for this particular session.
To begin, we are going to show you a short video from the Youth Summit that was held on May 2nd. We’re going to show you the video to talk a little bit about it and go from there. Thank you.
Talia: How are you doing today? Good. There we go, we’re so excited to have you all here.
Jean-Pierre: What is technology? Somebody once said technology is something that was invented after you were born. For me what’s technology? It’s the internet because when I was born that didn’t exist. For you folks, the internet and all the applications, and the way where you interact on your phones, it’s a completely different way of doing things. You’re a perfect group to help us think about the issue of internet.
Claude: At the National Film Board, it’s a national organization that has been there for, it’s an old one more than 75 years. We create and distribute content. Of course we want our content to be seen and the new tools, the onlines, and all the access ways to get it is so key for us. To every group like you with us today is something that is so important because not only you create content, you know how to get it and how to see it.
Speaker 5: People ask us, how do you go viral? If we knew the answer everybody would be viral. Everybody would be like all over the internet. We don’t know the answer to that. The only thing that we did is we put out funny, friendly, safe content. We never sold out and put out bad material or things that would be questionable.
We statue to our morals and our values and our idea of what goodness is into the world and people loved it. We got the attention of brands. We have our choice of which brands we want to work with now. That’s what we have done.
Speaker 6: Who wants to get crazy for Mondays? Where’s the tab? Whose got a tab? I saw a tab, there’s tabs everywhere. Whoa.
Nicole: What content do you love viewing, watching, and sharing? Go! Five minutes guys.
Melanie: Since your generation is trailblazing the communication sector, experts, and leaders want to understand how you connect with friends and families. How you get inform of what’s happening around you and the world? What makes you click in an app or in an online community? We have tremendous opportunity to influence the future of our creative industries and of our society.
Amanda: Great. Thank you. That fabulous video was all sort of a submission of a really amazing event as I mentioned earlier that happened on May 2nd at the CBC organized by the CRTC in collaboration with the National Film Board. About 100 students from across Toronto were brought together to discuss how they consume and how they discover content. Alongside being an opportunity for them to discuss, and to be engaged, and to also recognize their own important role in this media of landscape.
It was also an opportunity for us to gather a lot of information for you, the leaders in this particular landscape to understand how they consume this content, how they discover it, and what it is that they are looking for. We always here about the millennials. I feel like I heard that term a million times today, but today is our opportunity to hear from them directly through of what was gathered on May 2nd.
We’re lucky this after to have two people who actively participated in the youth summit to share with us some of the highlights of the event and to discuss the distinctions and particularities of the younger generation. I’m going to introduce them to you. Nicole Bélanger is a writer and media maker based in Toronto. She facilitated the conversation on content consumption with the students during the youth summit.
Nicole’s original teenage plans to become a lawyer and/or work for the government thankfully got derailed in the early 2010s when she discovered a passion for writing as a way of reading connection. Since then, her writing on everything from loss, to beauty, to careers have appeared in digital outlets like The Huffington Post, Refinery29, Urban Native Magazine, Modern Loss and Business Insider, as well as a print collection from Sumeru Press.
I also want to introduce our second speaker for this session Cathy Wing. Cathy is co-executive director at MediaSmarts. She is also facilitated sessions with the students during the youth summit. The session focused mostly on digital and media literacy as MediaSmarts is Canada centric for digital and media literacy. Cathy has worked with MediaSmarts since its inception in 1995.
Over the years she has been responsible for overseeing digital and media literacy programs for Canadian schools, homes and communities, managing stakeholder relations and coordinating MediaSmarts’ ongoing national research project Young Canadians in a Wired World. Sounds like she basically runs the entire thing. Please join me in welcoming Nicole and Cathy.
We’re going to start with Nicole Bélanger, who will share some of the outcomes of her conversations with students. Right after that we’re going to do a Q&A with her so get ready with your questions. Nicole, on to you.
Nicole: Thank you. Thank you so much. Oh my god, that is incredibly bright. We divided the session up to into three main buckets of conversation. We started with “What?” What are they taking in? What are they consuming? Then we talked about “how” is that was mostly logistical questions around the devices used when they’re consuming content. We had a discussion around “why” do they share what they share and what are the big motivating factors for taking it in and then passing it along.
First question for them was what content do you view, watch, or share? Now, I’m not sure what I was expecting, what the other grown up participants, and the session were expecting. It was a lot of the same stuff that you or I would consume. Lots of network TV shows both private cable and larger network shows. One thing that I thought was super interesting is many of them mentioned YouTube, but they didn’t just mentioned the platform they mentioned specific content creators.
Content creators like Jenna Marbles or Casey Neistat, they knew their names. A lot of them put their handles down. They have relationships and they keep coming back to these specific people much like radio shows. Radio show host will be followed now and few years ago, they’re following these YouTube creators. A lot of them mentioned specifically, they wrote down platform names. They wrote down Snapchat, Vine, Reddit, Tumblr, 9GAG, Twitch. Twitch is a gaming community platform.
Several of them also mentioned websites, a content sites like CollegeHumor, BuzzFeed, and IGN again for the tech and gaming side. I think the big takeaway here is like human beings of any age their interest were varied. They watch new shows and they watch comedy shows. They listen to science content and read stuff about arts. Their interest are just as varied as ours. The comedy was interestingly enough a big theme throughout all the questions. Whether we’re talking about platforms like Vine which are known for a lot of their comedic content, or just a content they share comedy was a big recurring theme.
We ask them, “How do you find new content?” Like us they use platform generated recommendation, so you’re looking at the Netflix home screen and you’re trying desperately to be given something to watch out of this huge mass of content. One thing that I thought was really interesting is they seemed to be more curious than at least I know I am and I think many of us are. They’re looking through the trending topics on Twitter, they’re looking through the coming through, the recommendation sidebar on YouTube. They’re actively looking for new things.
They’re hungry and they have varied taste and they’re actively going after new content. They browse social media just like anyone else, they get recommendations from their friends. Some of them did write down recommendations from culture shapers like YouTubers as influencing who and what they look for. Several did mentioned advertisements. These items here TV, billboards, promotional e-mails were directly things that they wrote down for us.
Browsing aggregations sites like Reddit and a lot of them wrote down Google and kind of one thing that I personally flags and then that I’d be curious to know more about is I don’t remember the last time I punched something into Google and read pages and pages of Google search results. Just the fact that many of them mentioned that, I have to say I’m a little curious about whether or not that, that something that they do. These were kind of like the main answers that we got.
We also ask them when, what times of day are they interacting with different content. I have to say I was personally a little bit surprise by their answers. The answer is number one, they’re on their phones all day. We ask them what devices that they’re using throughout the day. We didn’t notice at the bulk of computer time happens in evenings as well as the bulk of TV time. They were on their computers and they were on their TVs in the morning. They were consuming video content in the morning which I have to say even like I was thinking back to when I was in school and I don’t remember accessing that kind of content.
In the morning, you were listening to the radio or you were reading something. They were on the phones all day and a lot of them mentioned that they’re on YouTube and Netflix during the school day, so I don’t know what that means. Time of day was less significant than I personally anticipated. I think probably others as well. I was really expecting to see differences in terms of the types of content they were consuming be at audio, visual, text content, but it really didn’t seem to matter.
They were largely on websites during the day. I mean I think that makes sense from like a data used perspective on your phones and again most of the computer use was in the evening. We ask them how do they consume their content, and I think you saw in the video we did some live polling. We went through first of all and ask them for each of these devices, how many of you use them? Smart phones, 90% of them reported yes, they use them. Tablets was higher than I personally anticipated at 50%. Computers at home almost all of them did, and then there was a 70/30 laptop, desktops split there.
I will say that I think personally this information should be taken with a grain of salt. There is an economic component in terms of access to these devices and teens are very sensitive to peer pressure. If you’re in a room with a whole bunch of other kids, they’re answering “Yes, I use my laptop at home.” and you don’t have one. Maybe you’re not going to give a totally truthful answer. Computers at school 49% of them reported using them to access the kind of content that we’re talking about.
35% reported using a gaming console, PlayStation, Xbox that kind of thing. We ask them in terms of the TV, in terms of the actual device. We’re not talking about access to cable, we’re not talking about just the device, the TV screen, 64% of them do. When it came to traditional radios and online streaming radio, but traditional radios. 60% do in the car, 22% do at home, and in the car.
We also asked them to rank those devices in terms of the volume of use and this is what we came out with. I don’t think it’s particularly surprising information. Again, very similar to how I’m guessing most people in this room would rank these devices and hers of their personally use. Okay, the TV question. We ask them and I want to be very specific in terms of explaining how we ask this question. We ask them, “Where do you like more content online or on cable television?”
Online we clarified for them means also you’re going to globaltv.com. You’re going to abc.com and consuming that content there. 92% of them reported watching more of their content online than on cable TV. We also ask them about audio content, music and podcast primarily. 61% of them do download music and they said that, that was using a free service. Often there’s things like YouTube to MP3 converter where just a questionable legality actually I think it’s not legal at all but that’s what they use.
I think my brother tell me about that, I didn’t know that existed. The preferred method of streaming music online was YouTube kind of next in the 20% range was paid services Tidal, Aquamusique, Spotify, and then kind of another 20% was free services, Google Play Music which used to be Songza that kind of thing. By and large the smart phone was the preferred device for consuming audio content and 66% of them actually interestingly enough reported listening to podcasts.
This was the big question that people really curious about is what drives you to share the content that you shared. These are word for word things that they wrote down on the flip charts, makes you happy. You want to raise awareness about things and make people care. Makes your day better, it’s something that you can relate to. Boost your self-esteem and then validating to have people read and support the content that you’re sharing. You’re sharing to inspire people.
Content makes you embrace your culture, your city, to promote your business, to challenge you, to share moments. Nostalgia is a driving force to laugh about it with friends. If I ask all of you in this room to tell me why you share content whether that’s passing a physical book to someone, posting something on Facebook, or recommending a radio show. I’m guessing you would give the same answers perhaps in a more sophisticated vocabulary but you would give the same answers.
We ask them do you share different things with different people? Naturally the answer is yes, but we talk to them a little bit about this. They share funny things with their friends, not with their parents. This whole share educational content their parents. Why do they share educational content with their parents? “Because it makes us look smart.” Exactly word for word they said. Here’s some specific examples. Kids talk about sharing Tasty videos which BuzzFeed makes sound their quick little raspy videos. Very polarizing, some people really don’t like them. It’s interesting.
I share these videos with my siblings so we can cook these recipes together. They share pictures of homework on Snapchat with each other. I’m not sure if that’s completed or uncompleted homework. We didn’t prompt them too much, they’re with their teachers. They share animal videos with their parents and not their friends. I think the key takeaways here is we treat them. I can’t look at them and us and we treat them like they’re different beasts but really to be exact same beast that we are there just born at a different time.
I think we do ourselves a disservice by treating them as a them and an us. We’re all human beings with the very similar motivations and needs. The thing that’s really interesting is these platforms are woven into the fabric of their lives, their other limbs, just like our hands our tools. Snapchat is a tool for them, or Instagram is a tool for them. Because of that they have a more sophisticated relationships with these platforms. They have a more innate understanding of what belongs on them and what doesn’t.
To give you an example, I joined Snapchat three weeks ago. It took me two weeks to really get it, and even now I’m not entirely sure that I do. I was sitting down with my brother who’s 21 and my cousin who’s 18. I was asking them like, “Explain this to me.” The examples that they were giving for how they used it was totally different. They don’t text their friends pictures anymore. They post them Snapchat, and I was like “Why do you do that?” They’re like, “Duh, these are not store on your phone. You’re not building up use in your cloud. It is a peer, it’s easier.”
It’s just their relationship with them as much more sophisticated. My personal takeaway here and I’m not a child development psychologist, I’m not a social scientist or a user experience researcher. I am a writer and I am a media maker who is trying to find out how I can survive and thrive in a world where a lot of us don’t want to pay for content anymore. How I can do the work that I want to do and make it a viable career for myself. My personal takeaway here is that I think a better understanding of the relationships to these platforms will allow us to create content that is more appealing to them.
That becomes again part of the fabric of their lives. If we just take an article that we post on a website, chop it up into tweets, or post a video on Snapchat, that’s not going to be very compelling to them. We need to understand how they use these platforms to be able to create content that really reaches them. In a nut shell that’s what we heard from the kids.
Amanda: Thank you.
Nicole: So are we doing some questions?
Amanda: Right now, we’re going to do a Q&A rather than have you hold it after Cathy’s presentation. We’re going to just do it now so you don’t forget any of your thoughts. Are there any questions? I’ll come around with the microphone.
Speaker 9: Do you think we will going to do the same thing in the French Canadian part of Canada or are you consulting only the children from Toronto?
Nicole: That’s a great question.
Speaker 9: Like First nation children. The answer will be different in First nation or in regions, you think?
Nicole: I think probably. I think a lot of the basic information would be the same but yes, I think we do need to look at our regional differences. That’s something that I would suggest that you bring to the organizers of the event because I think it is important. I think regional differences, our parent even just in terms of like access to the internet, access to devices, and access to repairs for device when your devices break down.
I think the French, being a bilingual person myself the content that I grew up consuming in French is way different in lot of ways in the content that I consume in English nowadays. I would definitely suggest bringing that up with the organizers, I think it’s really important.
Speaker 10: Yes. You mentioned that the kids were somewhat more sophisticated in their use of some media. Do you mean that they’re more like … The example you gave to them was more familiar but what we see when we look at the statistics is for example elderly people though they don’t use Facebook as much in percentage, a lot of them use it a lot.
They seem to get it and I’m not sure I would quantify or would measure let’s say the Facebook usage of someone who’s 65 versus someone who’s 15. Are you saying that the kid who’s 15 will have a better understanding of Facebook than the retired guy who’s using Facebook at home?
Nicole: Sure. I would say and this again is I’m just reporting on what these kids told us. I think the best way to answer that question is I think Cathy remember this young man. He got up and he talked about, he gave us his opinion on why Facebook is floundering with younger age groups in terms of attention, in terms of the time spent on the platform. He explaining that they’re just not evolving in terms of their features.
He gave a little run down of what he might like to see and how messenger played into the platform. Sure, we all use Facebook but I think that in a lot of cases and you can’t say all 15 year olds are the same and all 64 year olds are the same. Some will be more sophisticated and those will be more sophisticated. I think that they’re understanding of how these platforms fit into our lives is a little bit more innate and complex.
As a 20 something I would just go to Facebook to post something there using it for … They’re seeing used cases for these platforms but maybe we don’t see. I’m taking it up face value, they’re going beyond that. That’s kind of what we heard from the kids.
Speaker 11: Thanks. Hi.
Speaker 11: When you’re talking about their sources for content digitally, curious to hear their view on illegal downloading versus more legal sources like network websites, and Netflix, and that sort of thing. Did they have a view on BitTorrent and if that was part of their regular consumption habit as well?
Nicole: That wasn’t something that we went too deep into. I would hazard I guess if I was pressed based on their answer about downloading music being overwhelmingly using illegal sources. I would guess at that extends to their television consumption. I think if like I said we were in the room with a bunch of teachers, and a bunch of grown-ups, and a bunch of people from the government.
If none, usually, you’re going to come and crack the web on these kids. No, but do they know that? I don’t know. Perhaps an environment like the one we have just giving my two sense moving forward for these forever consultations. If you want to dive into that illegality conversation or questionable legality, I don’t think environment like the one that we had on Cathy and curious to hear your thoughts will be the most conducive to that.
Again, based on the answers to the music question being so overwhelmingly yes illegal sources. I’m guessing it be quite heavy.
Speaker 12: Did you have question that pertain to retention? Did they talked about how long they stayed on this platform or what they were consuming the content they were consuming? Was it like 2-minute video, 1-hour video?
Nicole: That we didn’t have the time to get into. Again, that’s my two sense on where if there’s more further inquiry being done, it would be exactly in there. How the nitty-gritty of how they use these platforms. Yeah, that’s where I’m mostly curious about after this high level overview discussion that we had.
Speaker 12: I’m curious about the way that young people engage with content after like the main part of the content is done. For example, after they’ve watched Game of Thrones, did they talk about the social media conversation that might happen after that? Engaging in communities after on Twitter or I don’t know? Was there any conversation around how that helps to increase their engagement with a particular type of content the other things that might support that engagement past the point of watching it or engaging it?
Nicole: That wasn’t something that we got into during, but I think that a lot of this … Again, I would hazard to guess that yes, based on they’re talking about sites like for gaming Twitch and IGN. Those are the sites where you’re going to find forums where they’re going to go discuss the games that they’re playing. They’re going to connect with other other people, so based on the prevalence of second screening while watching TV, my guess is that it will probably extend too.
Amanda: Any other questions? Great. Thank you so much, Nicole.
Amanda: I’m just going to pass it along to Cathy who’s going to talk a little bit with us about her findings. Do you want to take this one?
Cathy: Okay, I just wanted to go back to your question about illegal content. Because we do research and I’ll talk about a little bit with classroom surveys of about 5400 students across the country. One of the things that we’ve learned is that if there is a place, if they know where to go and find legitimate sources. If it’s easy, if it’s not expensive that they will use those sources and that’s happening more and more.
There were few things that came up when you talked about Google. We found out that they never when they’re authenticating things, when they’re searching, they never go past the first page of Google ever. The second page of Google is dead to them so they say it. They were lot of things that came up that I thought, “Oh yeah, we’ve seen this in a larger scale.”
MediaSmarts, actually we have a long history with the CRTC and the NFB, so just really briefly there were a lot of content concerns in the mid-90s about media violence. Canadians were quite concerned about this topic and the CRTC took it on, they did round table discussions, and they actually asked the National Film Board to setup a clearing house on media literacy. That became MediaSmarts, we stood at those media awareness networks and you may remember us in that iteration.
That was 20 years ago. You could ask yourself as media literacy still important. In fact it’s extremely important even more so today, but it’s more into digital jersey and which is a term we hear all the time now. Because youth are … That’s the primary way they access their content and the communication is to digital literacy or digital media. As an organization we’ve actually grown with our mandates become more important. As you can imagine, so we produce just really briefly resources for the classroom.
Everything from lesson plans to interactive games. We produce resources for parents, and community organizations. Increasingly, we’re producing resources that go directly to youth. We talked directly to youth. We like to engage with youth more and more as an organization because what we really learned at the summit was that you can’t talk about kids media use without engaging with them, without talking to them directly. You can’t talk about them. It’s really important.
When we produce anything for youth, we’re working with them hand-in-hand to produce the resources. We also work really closely with industry partners. We came out of the south regulatory system and so industries always been a really strong partner of ours. You’ll see we produce this guide with Shaw that was just translated into Arabic actually and distributed to 7500 new Syrian families in Canada which was an amazing project.
Facebook, we produce this guide for sharing on Facebook. It’s been released all around the country, or all around the world in multiple languages. Nine language is in India alone. We just did in Canada and three aboriginal languages which we’re very proud of. All of our work is informed by our research. We do the largest and longest running study of children’s internet use in Canada. It’s been going on since 2000 and we just had our third phase. Over those years, we’ve talked to 17,000 students.
We go back to the same classrooms every five years and different students obviously but same classrooms. Grades 4 to 11 English and French schools, every province and territory. We just released our latest iteration of this research in 2014, we have 9 finding reports on our website. I think if you go there you’ll find a lot of really interesting information about how young Canadians are using the internet.
When I arrived to the summit last week, the first adult that I spoke to said when I told her we were doing digital literacy workshops with the kids, she said “Why do they need digital literacy? They’re digitally literate already?” I thought, “That’s a really good question and that’s the question we get all the time.” It was actually 15 years ago that Marc Prensky coin the term digital natives if you can’t believe it’s been that long. The kids at the summit were actually being born when that term came into being.
We have this idea that kids are, because they use everything in technology so effortlessly, so fluidly that they are naturally digitally literate. In fact our research shows that, that is not the case at all. I like the fact that you said that millennials are no different from us because we lack digital literacy skills as well, so they’re no different from us. It’s important because they’re all vulnerable population so it’s important that they’ll be learning the skills.
We’ve spend some time and I’m not going to bore you with this. If you’re really geeky, you can go to our website and really dig in to what digital literacy skills are. Everyone is talking about digital literacy and people want to know what exactly do you mean by that. We’ve spent a few years looking at international models, we’ve come up with our own model of it. It starts at the very bottom with access, obviously without access you can’t become digitally literate. Of course there’s that tension there that if you aren’t digitally literate will you actually access the tools?
Will you use the broadband that’s coming into your house? The research shows, “No, you won’t.” Then you get to the use stage which is more about using the technical tools. This is where young people excel. They pick up the tools and they learn them instantly, they absorb them, and that’s why we think that the digital be literate. As you get up to the higher level skills which is understand and understand is where you’re talking about being able to make inform decisions online. You see there’s all these really sophisticated skills that are starting to develop.
This is where we find that there’s a real knowledge gap with young people. After understanding, we have create. Create is a really important piece because that’s what drives creativity, it drives the digital economy, and it drives innovation. What we’re finding is that young people aren’t learning these skills either. They’re not learning them in school as much as we would like, but they’re also not picking them up. They’re not motivated enough to be picking them up on their own. They really like plug and play type things.
We just did a huge survey of 5,000 teachers with the Community Teachers Federation. Looking at technology in the classroom and we found out that very few of the kids are creating videos in school, very few. I mean so easy to do, they all have camera in their back pocket but very few are doing that. These are issues we had to deal with. When we’re asked to come and do presentations at the session, we want to do things that were meaningful for kids. We actually looked at this … We have put together this huge digital literacy program on our website, we’re teaching kid skills in kindergarten and grade 12.
We just pulled out some activities from this program that we thought we can do with kids. This is really based on what we’ve learned from our research. Just interestingly as an aside, some of the things that kids told us they want to learn is how the telephone line information is true. The legality of their online activities which is fair and interesting. How to protect their privacy? How companies collect their personal information and what they do with it?
I’m going to go really briefly to these. Can I grab some water? Thank you. Too much talking. This would be a lot more fun if we just had a video of the kids at the end of their sessions because they all gone on stage and they presented what they’ve done. We don’t have that video so I’m just going to have to do a little recap for you and it’s not going to be as much fun as watching those kids. Obviously they weren’t super engaged. That’s what I thought was really interesting. They were really engaged because these are topics they deal with every day.
These are authentic learning experiences. You have to let the kids their tools. That’s the other thing we learned about what’s happening in classrooms. Kids aren’t using Twitter or Facebook, they’re not allowed to use social media in the classroom. There are teachers that they’re doing amazing things but generally policies are really clamping all that kind of stuff.
This was a really good authentic learning experience. The first thing we did was building your online brand and that was Jared, this guy right here. He’s gone now, but he was great because Jared is a branding guy. The whole idea was how do you build positive online brand. These were all the students who’s starting to think about getting jobs, getting into university, and they really getting aware of the implications of their online presents and their digital footprint. These are important things to them. Oh thank you. Sorry.
The first thing they do with an online search. We actually have a great tip sheet on our site calling “Building your online brand.” Everybody should read it. Adults need to learn this stuff too because there’s some great tips. What they learned about was how you front load the information that you want people to find. You pick out the things that you want people to know about you that are really positive, you volunteer, you involved in sports.
You figure out how you’re going to front load this information. You want it to come to the top of the search. We show them how you create a homebased online and that could be a website or a blog, and then what you do is you make sure that everything that you control the messaging on that of course. You put the kind of messaging that you want people to see, and then you make sure that everything links back to that webpage. All your social media accounts, everything that you do links there.
The more things that link to it the higher we rated on Google when people do a search for you. The other thing is to create custom accounts that you’re going to want potential employers or universities to look at, your social media accounts, but make them a year before. Because they spot a brand new not lived in site or a scrub site if you’re planning on deleting everything from your real Facebook page. You have to make sure that it looks authentic, so we taught them how to do that.
It was interesting, they thought Facebook and Instagram were the two sites that they felt were the best sites for them to use to reach out for this type of thing for university. They didn’t mention LinkedIn but obviously that’s the platform that they don’t know about, they don’t use, they’re not interested in. What I really like was a kind of brand attributes they wanted to project. I think this really shows that they are no different from us.
What they wanted to show is that they’re caring, they’re intelligent, they’re confident, and they’re professional. Now, doesn’t that just like everybody’s LinkedIn page, right? We all want to look that way. They really have the same kind of aspirations that we do. They also really understand the importance of reaching different audiences with different messages. That was clear in this session but that also really fits with our research, which shows that they really carefully curate their content for different audiences.
They care about privacy but they want to make sure that things are private but not from certain audiences if you know what I mean. Those nuances, they’re much aware of. The second session that we did, this one I’ll go through quickly was called “Unwritten rules.” The idea of this was that there’s official rules and regulations on the sites that you use. There are unwritten codes and those unwritten codes become the social norms of the sites that you’re on and these are really important because young people spend so much time …
Oh we have to go to the next slide. I’m sorry. I can’t do all these at once myself. Not all good multitasker clearly. Interestingly the students had a really good deep knowledge of the actual rules on the sites that they use. I made you wonder, are they reading the terms and conditions in the privacy policies on these sites? I don’t know, I mean we create tools to teach kids how to do that and how important it is. They seem to know what they could and couldn’t do on the sites that they use.
There weren’t as good at coming up with the unwritten code, so I think they maybe have absorbed them so much and they don’t even think about them. Some of the tips that they came up with were don’t be a self-promoter. Make any content you share valuable. I thought that was really important. They don’t want you wasting their time. They want you to think about things before you send them around. You can see these skills are all overlapping obviously because when we talk about authentication which was the next session that we did, obviously that’s the type of thing.
Don’t send me stuff that’s not true, that’s a hoax. It’s wasting my time. Also rules are different in different situations. They produce short videos. The point of this whole session, I wish I could show you the videos but we don’t have them. It was to sensitize students to the fact that they have a lot of power in creating the social norms in the environments where they spend time. That is really important because we know social media platform is trying to please behavior on those platforms, we see how difficult it is.
We’re constantly trying to teach young people that they actually have a lot of power in these environments. We did authenticating online information which was the session that I did which was a lot of fun. We had viral content. We had four viral videos and one viral photo. We wanted the kids to go through some kind of rigorous steps of authenticating this content. We didn’t want them to just put the name of the video and then hoax into Google. They actually had some steps they had to go through.
What was really interesting was when we showed them the content at the beginning. They got every single one wrong. Two of the videos were true, two were hoaxes, and one that we couldn’t tell, we couldn’t discern. They got every single one wrong. I’m sure you would all do the same thing. These are hard skills to pick up. I think I can show you the first one. Does anybody remember this? This is a weasel riding on a woodpecker. Do you remember this picture?
Wait, how many people think this is a real picture? That’s exactly what the kids thought too. You’re wrong. It is a real picture. This picture was taken by a nature photographer and when he put it up, I think by the time it went on the BBC Facebook page after they’ve been up for 24 hours, it had 15 million hits on it. It was very difficult for them to track down whether this was real or not, but they found an article in National Geographic and they actually talked about how it could not have been photo-shopped. It was very detailed article and how you could not photoshop this picture, so indeed it was real.
They had to pick their favorite presentation out of the group and they showed a video that I’m going to show you now. Let’s see if it works. I just press go? No, it didn’t. Back up. I don’t know if you’ve seen this, it’s fairly new. It’s a road in China. That’s a traffic cop. Now he noticed that something is going on. He starts to put out pylons and then seconds later. We’ve used maybe this much is a hoax, much real one. Okay, I’m sorry.
Voting, does anybody believe that, that was a real video of a sinkhole appearing? Okay, so about quarter of you thought it was real. It is real. All the students thought it wasn’t real. What they did with that one? They were very studious those students. They get to search on the person who posted it, it was an individual. They hadn’t had any other misinformation posted under their account. They found that it haven’t picked up by the Guardian and BBC. That was what they based their conclusion on.
It was funny, they still didn’t believe that it was a 100% true because they understand that sometimes mainstream. News organizations pick up viral content and run them and then find out afterwards if they’re not true. These are skills that we all need obviously. Standing up was based on some cyber bullying research that we did last year with PREVnet and TELUS. What we looked at were interventions that young people do and how effective they are. The problem with cyber bullying is when we’re trying to get young people to stand up in bullying.
We have this platitude stand up to bullies, in fact it’s so much more nuance and complex than that. You really have to look at the situation and then you have to figure out what is the best response. It has to be evidenced based when you’re telling young people how to respond because the whole thing is you don’t want to make things worse. You want to make things better. What we did was we presented some moral principles that can be in conflict with each other.
For instance, you should stand up with your friends, and you should defend targets of bullying. Those are two moral principles that everybody can say are good, but they can come into conflict and situations, because situations are never clear cut. They debated different types of moral principles. They had to make a choice of what intervention that they thought would be most likely to be successful. They had to explain those to the group. Some of the effective responses that they come up with and these are supported by evidence by the way.
Was taking it offline is the number one way that you should [inaudible 00:49:10] in cyber bullying. Not to respond online. The idea of comforting the victim offline, very effective response. We know and they came up with that one. Asking the victim how you should respond or waiting to see how things play out and whether the online drama will peter out. The final one we did was about remixing. This one was fun because we were talking about some very exciting concepts fair use, fair dealing, and copyright.
Kids aren’t that interested in those topics, but we have to teach them about them. Because it’s important they understand the ethical aspects of using other people’s content. What we did was we show them, we have five videos on our site that look at the key concepts of media literacy. I’m just going to show you one quickly. It’s only a minute long. We show this to them.
Speaker 14: Media are constructions. Why? Just like a house, media products are carefully built using many different parts. A real house needs concrete, and wood, and glass. Media products use words, illustrations, photography, sound, and video to create a representation of what is real. Take this picture, it’s not a real bicycle, it’s a representation. Media creators need conscious or unconscious choices of what to include, what to leave out, and how to present it all.
They make artistic choices. They use different lettering styles, pictures, and sounds to send different messages to different audiences. The best media constructions are the ones that seen the most natural. You can really understand media, you need to know how this create, who created it, and for what reason. Hey, be MediaSmart. Think about the webpage, advertisement or video and identify all the parts of its construction, how were the parts put together, and what is the goal of the creator?
Cathy: What they did was they took the five concepts of media literacy, five very established concepts and they use the site called “Media Breaker’ which is a very cool site. It’s an organization of New York City and we’re working with them to get this platform used in classrooms in Canada. It’s a platform where you can remix, but the whole idea is that there’s a media literacy component. They’re remixing commercials that they find defensive that they don’t like, they’re taking the commercial there and remixing it so that it has a more pro-social message from their standpoint.
They made a few but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to upload them to the server so I can’t show them to you today. Those were the five sessions that we did. Again, I think my key takeaway from the sessions were the idea of the gain of engaging youth in the discussion when you’re talking about media, so that you’re getting they’re involved in any of kind of solution and especially if you’re talking about government policies are going to come out of this, or education policies. You really have to be talking directly to them.
Also that these kids have grown up with media but they still need a lot of guidance an advice from parents and teachers, and they ask us for that when we do the research. They asked for parents and teachers to be involved in teaching them these skills. There’s a role for us to play even though we think that they know everything. Basically the takeaway.
Amanda: Thank you very much Cathy. Right now, we’re going to have our Q&A. Are there any questions? You’re all lining up at the same time.
Speaker 15: The research you do with youth it’s longitudinal, you’ve doing it for several years now, is that correct?
Cathy: It’s not longitudinal in the sense that they’re not the same students, but it’s been on-going for 16 years.
Speaker 15: Just generally obviously technology has changed but other ways you find that youth of that age has changed in the way … Done in a way they consume and excited, that will be dramatic but any insights there how we’ve changed?
Cathy: One way we’ve changed, in the beginning what we found is that kids were going online and parents thought that this was the most amazing thing that could ever happen. In our first generation, people were just getting computers into their house in the internet. Parents just thought this was going to be the most amazing educational tool their child could ever have.
Fast-forward five years, parents were totally freaked out, anxious, trying to shut down the computer in the house, trying to control the kids’ access because, it did become a huge destruction, they felt. They didn’t see that they were getting any kind of quality experiences out of their internet use. They’ve kind of went from one extreme to another and very informed on both hands actually.
I would say another thing that’s really changed this whole idea that the kind of moral panic over safety, that’s really been sort of the defining narrative with kids going on the internet. They have absorbed all those messages. The last time we spoke to them, they know how to take care of themselves online, the vast majority of kids. If there’s a predator, anybody bugging them they know exactly how to block and they ignore them.
We know from the body of evidence that’s out that children that are at risk online are at risk offline. It’s a small very vulnerable population. I would say those are kind of the key things that we’ve noticed over the years.
Speaker 16: I’m wondering what your research have shown in terms of children, kids, attitudes towards advertising and messages that are coming in? How comfortable they are with getting content for free but being subject to advertising? Do they pay attention, do they not pay attention? Is it something they just accept, and enjoy, and use, and feel like it’s a positive influence on their decision-making, or do they realize that there are a lot of dollars behind trying to convince them to look left or right?
Cathy: Wow. It’s a big topic. We analyzed the top 50 website each time that the kids are going to. That information is on there, it’s really interesting. Every single site is commercial site. That’s changed a bit. I think there was one site that wasn’t commercial in 2005. Last iteration every single one is commercial. They’ve grown up and just completely commercialized environment, so they’re used to it.
It’s kind of like a wallpaper in a way. They did say in the last study that they liked getting targeted advertising on Facebook. They also said at the same time it shows the knowledge gap when we ask who should be allowed to see your social media post, the company that owns the platform was at the very bottom. They didn’t want them looking at their post, and yet they didn’t understand the business model of how those ads were appearing.
It didn’t bother them government or police looking at their post, but they didn’t want the platforms looking at their post. I think that they’re so used to it and they think it’s the price that they pay for free content.
Gretchen: Thank you for your presentation. My name is Gretchen, I also do media literacy work in Montreal schools with kids who are under the age of 8 and have started as young as 5. In addition to that working community radio where often children are working alongside of their parents. At least in my experience hosting radio programming. I see the value of kids learning to produce media, so I very much appreciated the ethical remixing part.
I’m wondering if you could speak to that sort of the importance of hands-on production, not just for example knowing how to read an advertisement, but the idea of being able to remix or even produce your own content that’s more reflective of what you want. How critical that is to media literacy applying the skills of media literacy so that the content is a chance to actually do with what you’ve learned?
On that, I wonder if you could speak to your experience trying to get media literacy in schools because I know at least from a Quebec experience we have at the secondary level in high school many newspapers and radio stations, so students have a chance at the high school level to get involved in media production. But, in terms of teaching media literacy it doesn’t necessarily exist and it certainly doesn’t exist at the primary level even a hands-on stuff doesn’t exist at the primary level.
I wonder if you could speak to that? I guess if I could just tag on a last little question because you brought up something about youth and policy making. I’m just wondering if there was a rule for youth at this summit that we perhaps missed out on? Because I would presume this is where the adult summit is the policy talk I guess if we’re going to use language from earlier today. Sorry it’s a lot of questions at once but …
Cathy: Starting with the first one. Actually you would be really good to speak to this because Nicole works for ladies learning code. I think that the hands-on is really, really important. I think it’s just part of the whole basket of skills that young people need. I think that it’s not happening in schools and I know that BC has just introduced coding into the curriculum, the first province to actually do that.
There’s going to be push back from the teachers, there already has been. It’s just one more thing on their plate, now we have to become a coding expert, a programmer. Yet, these are really important skills. This is where the big gap is in Canada. We have to look at connecting learning outside of the classroom as well as inside and ladies learning code I know go into classrooms. If we can bring those that expertise into classrooms.
Libraries are great places for this type of learning to be going on and it is and museums. There’s all kinds of people that are doing work. If you’re in a big center like Toronto, obviously there’s tons of stuff going on and you take your kids to do hands-on on learning that’s outside the school. I think you’ll see more and more of that type of connected learning happening. There’s so much that teachers are responsible for in the curriculum to begin with that to add another thing, it becomes really hard.
I guess that sort of wheels into your second question which was media literacy in the classroom. I know that Quebec is a bit behind with its curriculum compared to some of the other provinces. We actually produce the big study which is on our site where we looked at digital literacy and the curriculum in every province and territory. We looked at best practices because there are teachers that are doing great things and they’re doing hands-on stuff in the classroom, but the curriculum takes a long time to catch up and that’s the problem.
It has been a struggle to get media literacy taught even though it is in the curriculum. On our site, we have hundreds and hundreds of free resources in both languages and they’re all linked to the outcomes in every single province so that a teacher can go in and just click on what she’s teaching and “Oh here’s a media literacy lesson I can do that actually meets that outcome in social sciences, or math, or geography, or history.” It’s so broad media literacy. These are skills that overlap so much of our lives. I forget the third one.
Gretchen: The third one was about using policy making.
Cathy: That’s a really good point. It’s a good point.
Gretchen: It was your point.
Cathy: Yeah, but separately [crosstalk 01:01:36]
Gretchen: Did you miss out something at the summit, by not having a bigger….
Cathy: That’s right.
Gretchen: At this summit.
Cathy: You’re right. There should have been rather than having them hide. They’re off the way they were.
Gretchen: It’s kind of segregating.
Cathy: It is. Yeah, I know that’s a good point.
Speaker 18: This is going to sound really weird coming from behind you.
Speaker 18: We spoke earlier. I’m actually back in Ontario from Nunavut. You said briefly that both languages French and English. Is there any work towards translating into Inuktitut for the Inuit or for other first nation languages in Canada? That’s one thing to work for the rest of the world but just in candidates for MediaSmarts.
Cathy: We’re such a tiny organization and doing things in two languages is a huge, huge resource burden on our organization but we’re committed to doing it. We did produce the Facebook guides in Inuktitut, so they are available. That was paid for by Facebook and we work with APTN on that as well. Unless someone gives us funding then we can’t. I mean it would be great to have all of our resources and all of the top 10 languages in Canada but it’s difficult to do.
Amanda: Any other questions?
Speaker 19: I had a quick question around cyber bullying. I know a lot of the young people that I used to work with like when they were in middle school, they dealt with sort of an individualized cyber bullying. As they got older, there’s something about the graduation from cyber bullying to trolling that would happen. As there’s like presence online became larger so that their audience and then the sort of anonymous trolling bodies would come and police their all sorts of things.
The responses they got taught around how to deal with cyber bullying which kind of assumed that you knew the people that were bullying you were no longer relevant for dealing with this more serious trollers that would come. Leave comments that were also part of a larger the trolling in general is very rooted in a lot of like racism, sajini, like all that sort of stuff. These young people didn’t have as many tools to deal with the graduated level of bullying/oppression that started happening online.
I was wondering if that’s ever come in some of the training that you do to talk about going from like the individual small locale of like cyber bullying to the larger threat? Often happens for many adults as well too, which is trolling.
Cathy: Yeah. We do mostly deal with the K to 12 sector but we certainly appreciate what a huge impact this is having. Especially on driving women off of the internet and driving them off of platforms because of the type of hate. We do work in this area but again it’s about establishing social norms and it’s also working with Facebook. We sit on Twitter, we sit on their international advisory council as they’re trying to develop new tools, they will come to organizations like ours and talk to us about the tools.
I wish I had an answer for that question because it’s a huge issue that they were all facing. All I can say is start really young training kids and teaching them respectful discourse and sensitizing them to the fact that there’s somebody else on the other side of that screen which sounds so obvious, but they don’t get it. It’s so easy to divorce yourself from feeling empathy. A lot of our programs are about empathy building. It’s really important.
Amanda: We probably have time for one more question, if there’s anything out there? Or else I’m going to dominate with my own questions. No? Yeah. Okay. I’m trying to figure out how to word this particular question. No, I’m going to leave it. It’s okay. Thank you so much.
Cathy: Thank you.
Amanda: Because I don’t think I have the language. This whole …
Cathy: You were worrying me there.
Amanda: Yeah, I know this whole field has me in my mind a buzz with a lot of different things. Thank you guys so much for joining us. Enjoy the rest of your day, #discoverability. I think the comments that were brought up I hope are going to be communicated to our organizers. The questions that were also brought up as well too, I think that last one around the presence of young people are really important one.
I feel like I’m one of the youngest people here today and I really felt it. That would be great to encourage that for the next time around. Thank you all for joining us for this particular session.
Cathy: Yeah, that was a really good point, really.
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