Parents and others working with young people increasingly turn to their public library for expertise and information in the new area of information and digital literacy. It's a challenge that public libraries are embracing. To promote the resources available for parents and to build public awareness of their leadership role in Internet literacy, the Canadian public library community has designated February 19, 2004 as Canada's second annual Web Awareness Day . Under the theme Parenting the Net Generation, public libraries will use Web Awareness Day as a positive and high-profile opportunity to deliver the message that they are ready to support parents and communities in teaching young Canadians literacy skills for the 21st Century.
Our professional staff can help parents get the best out of their childrens online experience. As a parent are you aware of what your children are doing online? Do you know the risks of their activities? Do they know where to go to get reliable information for school projects? The Media Awareness Network www.media-wareness.ca offers parents three very useful checklists and tips.
1) Safe Passage: Teaching Kids to be Safe and Responsible Online
Two-thirds of Canadian kids (68 per cent) say their parents never sit with them while they surf; never use filters to block unsuitable sites (65 per cent); and never check to see what sites they have visited (54 per cent). While surfing the Internet, children may encounter situations that make them feel uncomfortable or harassed, or may actually endanger them. Sometimes the anonymity of the Internet encourages young people themselves to engage in irresponsible or risky activities. The Web site includes information on Web sites, e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging and file sharing and will help you understand where kids go on the Net, what they do there, and how you can encourage them to practice safe and responsible online behaviour.
2) Kids for Sale: Online Marketing to Kids and Privacy Issues
In the whole history of advertising, there has never been a medium like the Internet a medium able to actively engage young consumers, and even target them individually. Whether kids are online for fun or to do schoolwork, they will eventually be exposed to marketing aimed specifically at them. So it's important that they understand when, how and why they are being targeted. Subjects covered are how marketers target kids online and protecting kids privacy on commercial Web sites.
3) Fact or Folly: Authenticating Online Information
The Internet is a place where you can find "proof" of any belief system you can imagine. The problem is that too many kids believe if it's on the Internet, it has to be true. More than a third of secondary students (36 per cent) believe that most of the information they find on the Internet is accurate. Traditional resources have gatekeepers proofreaders, fact checkers, peer reviewers and professional editors to ensure that published information is accurate. But the Internet is different. In many cases, it has no gatekeepers: anyone can put up their own Web site and appear to be an expert. This section on the Web site outlines strategies for helping kids find and evaluate good online information and advice on how to address the increasing problem of Internet plagiarism.
There is still time to register for the Olympic-themed Charades night at the library on Sunday, Feb. 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The event promises to be very entertaining, with prizes to be won, and food and drinks provided by the library. For 13-16 year olds, free of charge. Call 604-932-5564 for more information. This is part of the Celebration 2010 Whistler Arts Showcase.
Freedom to Read Week
Watch this column next week for information on the 20 th Annual Freedom to Read Week which raises public awareness of censorship issues in libraries and bookstores across the country.