Have you ever had a message pop-up on your computer saying that you have a virus but if you click a certain button you can fix it? Or that if you click on a link you can get a free iphone? Or an email in your inbox from someone you’ve never met asking you for something? These are the most common examples of online tricks and scams called ‘PHISHING.’ Yep, the word sounds just like FISHING. That’s because, the scammers are fishing for your personal information. Your address, your phone number, your passwords, and sometimes your bank information or your parent’s credit card number!
They are doing this because they want to be able to get money from us or to pretend to be you when they are online. It is important that we learn to recognize what these kind of tricks look like so we don’t get tricked into sharing our personal information online. Learning to decide what is real and what is fake is one of the main skills of a great digital citizen, and a great online detective!
A few ways you can avoid phishing tricks online;
If you get an email from someone you don’t know and it looks suspicious, don’t open it! Show it to your parents and they can show you how you can report it as spam/junk mail. Spam is a kind of bad email that nobody wants.
If you get a message saying that you’ve won some big prize, or that you can get something free by answering a survey or paying a very low price, don’t believe it! If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
If something pops up on your computer saying that your computer has a virus and you need to do something to get rid of it, don’t click the button. Show it to your parents or teacher and they will know what to do.
Protect your private accounts by always signing out of public devices (like school or public library computers and ipads.)
To learn some of these tricks and scams and what to do about them, we are going to play the Google game Interland, and the world/level called Reality River. You will listen to each question. You will then be given answer choices. You can see each of the choices by clicking on each different platform. Once you’ve decided where you want to go, double-click it to select it. You will find out if your answer was correct or not. If it’s not you will fall in the river! Have fun, and if you have questions about phishing or online scams you can post them in the comments on this page and I will answer them.
Middle School Phishing Lesson for the week of May 4th
You may have heard the word phishing in relation to online safety and wondered what it meant. Imagine that YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION is the fish these phishers are fishing for. Your phone number, address, financial information, passwords, etc… Phishers are online scammers who are trying to get you to provide them with your personal information so that they can use your identity and/or get financial information from you.
A few common examples of phishing scams are;
emails from people you don’t know, saying that you’ve won something you didn’t try to win, or saying that something is wrong and you need to immediately provide them with information or something bad could happen
a pop-up link saying you have a virus and need to provide information to get rid of it
a pop-up link offering you something for free if you do a survey
It is important that we learn to recognize these scams so that we keep our own and our parents personal information safe. Never respond to these kind of links or emails and report them when possible. And when in doubt, show them to a parent or teacher to find out if it’s real or not.
I want you to watch this video and then post in the comments if any of these phishing scams has ever happened to you or someone in your family and what it looked like.
Share information about phishing scams with parents, grandparents, and friends so that everyone can protect their identity online.
The internet is an amazing place to spend our time, but we need to learn some basic safety rules for when we are online. Just like how when we learn to drive we learn the rules of the road first, we need to learn online safety rules before we start exploring on the internet.
ABCya! is a great site for educational games, but it also has a great online safety video and quiz we can use to learn the most important rules of internet safety. It is called Cyber-Five. Click on the picture and get started with the video, and then take the quiz when you’re done.
If you have any questions after you’ve watched the video and completed the quiz, be sure and include them in the comments on this page and I will answer them to the best of my ability!
Webinars for Parents
Parents can participate in Trend Micro’s 20 minute online safety webinar series. They are free and led by some of the world’s foremost experts.
First we are going to watch a video about the North American House Hippo…
When this video started, for a moment did you believe that this could be real or did you know immediately that it was not? What were some of the reasons you did or didn’t believe it? How could we be sure?
Some of the most important skills we need to be a great digital citizen are our critical thinking skills. A big part of critical thinking is our ability to find out if what we are seeing, reading, or hearing is true or not. There are some easy quick tricks we can use to verify (which means to check out or investigate) information.
So let’s try one of the easiest tricks.
Here is a picture that I found online a Cabbit. Online it says it is a cross between a cat and a rabbit. Isn’t it adorable?
So let’s run a Google Search on the information we want to verify. So open up Google and type the word cabbit in the search box. Or, if you’re on an ipad or have a home assistant, ask it out loud what a cabbit is. What did you discover from a simple search? Is it real or fictious (not real, imaginary). Type your answers in the comments on this page.
This shows us that the fastest way to check if information is true or not is to look around… look in other places! Check a couple of different websites. See if what else you can find out. Websites we use to find information are called our sources. Always check more than one source, especially if something sounds fishy!
Here is a video that offers you a few more special tricks you can use when you are choosing websites and videos to use for your research projects. Write down the 5w’s so that you can remember them when you need them!
Here is a picture that’s been floating around online. It is a photo of a Sea-Rex.
What is your first reaction when you see this picture? Do you think it’s real or fake? Why? What are some of the reasons you think people might post a photo like this online? This is actually a photoshopped piece of art called SeaRex by Rastroboy.
It is not hard for people to use special photo editing software to change photos into something that isn’t real. This is called digitally alteringa photo. There are lots of times when changing pictures this way is just for fun or to be silly. But sometimes pictures are changed to make us believe something that isn’t true.
Look at this photo which was used as an ad for cologne. Why do you think George Clooney was digitally altered?
Did you notice that the wrinkles were taken off? That the hair was made darker and less grey? That there are no shadows under his eyes? These are all ways that digitally altering a photo can make someone look younger or better looking. Another word for this type of photo editing is called retouching. This is done in most magazines and advertisements to make people look perfect. Especially when trying to sell face creams and cosmetics so that you believe that they work! It is even done in our school photos!
But we need to understand that this isn’t real life. Nobody looks that perfect. It is impossible to look at yourself in a mirror and see this kind of flawless image (until they invent mirrors that do this electronically and that is my million dollar idea!) Understanding that these images are not real is one way that we can be kinder to ourselves when we look in the mirror. We can’t compare ourselves to what we see in magazines and online because almost every celebrity has used a special filter or had their photos professionally altered.
Sometimes people post photos of themselves online that have been heavily edited to make them look perfect and sometimes it doesn’t even look like the same person! It only took me a minute to alter my own photo on my phone. Bigger eyes. Slimmer face. No dark circles. If I post this version of myself online, do you think my friends would notice? Most of my friends, especially women, tend to do this for every photo they post up. But what does this say about the kind of high standards in beauty we hold ourselves to?
Editing faces in videos has become extremely simple too. You may have seen examples of this with the app Snapchat. You can record a video of yourself as an old person, as a hamburger, or even as a celebrity!
Here is a ridiculous video that has been edited to look like the little girl is Donald Trump!
These kind of videos are called Deepfakes. Sometimes they are harmless and funny. But often they are posted to make people think that someone did or said something that they didn’t do or say! That can lead to the person’s reputation to be ruined or worse. Imagine there was a video out there of a kid saying bad things about his/her teacher and someone put your face over it and posted it online! This could get you in a lot of trouble.
Here is one of my favourite videos about the importance of not believing everything you see and hear online. You may have seen it on TV.
This video was made to educate students about the importance of critical thinking. Critical thinking is our ability to find out what’s true and what’s not. It is really important that we always think about what we are seeing. Seeing should not always mean believing… especially when you’re online.
Your assignment this week is to drastically edit a photo of yourself! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post them on this page.
The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi
This week I read a wonderful chapter book by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi!! The videos are in chapters so that you don’t have to listen to it all at once if you don’t have the time to. They will automatically play one after the other.
Your activity for this week is to follow along with Mo Willem’s amazing lunchtime doodles series! You can start with episode 1 and continue from there! His show will teach you how to draw all of his wonderful characters and provide you with great drawing tips!
Your parents and teachers (including me!) are often trying to educate you about the problems and safety issues surrounding social media. That it’s addictive, that some platforms are inappropriate, that it is full of ill-intentioned strangers. There is of course some truth to some of this, but there is also a bright and shiny flip side. There are a lot of positives that come from our ability to connect with friends and strangers around the world. Today’s lesson is about how we can use social media to make a positive impact.
Greta Thunberg is an example of someone who has used social media to spread the word about climate change. She has 4.1 million followers on Twitter and 10.2 million followers on Instagram. She uses these platforms to raise awareness and as a call to action in all of the cities and towns she visits.
We are going to look at some of the platforms people are using online to help make change in the world. I am going to use the example of environmental issues for this lesson as that is a topic that many of you have expressed is a big concern.
You can post photos on Instagram relating to an environmental issue that is affecting your community. Maybe it’s a photo of a pond near your house that’s full of garbage and needs to be cleaned up. Maybe it’s a photo of an amazing vegan meal you made. Maybe it’s a photo of a wild storm that is directly related to climate change. Whatever it is, share some information with the photo so that people who see it can take action in some way. Even if that means sharing a recipe! Use hashtags too. https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/environment/
You can even make Tik Tok videos that spread the word!
Feeling like we are making a difference is very empowering. Create a post that can contribute to educating others about any issue that is important to YOU. Highlight an issue you’d like to address in a post and choose the platform you’d like to use that you have an existing account for. If you are not on social media or are not old enough to create an account, this could be a personal blog post or just an image you can share out that includes a caption. This can be done now or over the course of the next two weeks. Make sure to do some research and get your facts straight so that you are not posting any misinformation. If you are able to share it with me or screenshot it and email it to me I’d love to include them on this page. email@example.com