There has been a rise in the past year of viral video ‘life hacks’ or ‘kitchen hacks’ depicting recipes or experiments that create impossible results. These videos have kids rushing to try out these sometimes dangerous experiments thinking that incredible things will happen, only to be left disappointed that it didn’t work for them.
What’s wrong with posting these kind of hoaxes online? They contribute to the growing problem of misinformation. That is, spreading information that simply isn’t true. In some cases, they are also putting children in danger. Bleaching strawberries, making popcorn with a clothes iron, microwaving things that shouldn’t be microwaved, playing with hot glue, plugging random things into electrical sockets are just a few examples of potentially dangerous hacks. One woman in England ended up in hospital after trying a life hack where you boil eggs still in their shell in the microwave! In the following video, Chris Foxx tries out some recipe hacks to see if they work.
In this video Lifehacker explains what is wrong with creating pointless hack videos.
This video, made as a joke, shows how silly and simple making these types of videos can be. He uses a lot of squishies to make it look convincing.
YOUR ASSIGNMENT: Make a fake life hack or kitchen hack video! Yes, you heard right. The best way to learn about the ridiculous nature of incredible and untrue hack videos is to make one yourself. Maybe you will use baking soda to transform an apple into an orange. Or put toothpaste in chocolate chip cookies to make them mint chocolate chip. The sky is the limit with this assignment. If you would like to share with me, I will post your fake hacks on this page. Send your videos to email@example.com.
Lower Grades Digital Citizenship Lesson for the week of June 1st
When friends or classmates are mean at school, we know what that looks like…
making fun of how you look or what you wear
not letting you play with them
spreading rumours or lies about you that aren’t true
sharing personal information about you (gossip) to hurt your feelings or embarass you
insult you for how good or not good you are at something
We also know how bad that kind of meanness makes us feel…
Even though the internet can be a super fun place to spend our time, the same kind of meanness and bullying can happen when we are there too. CYBERBULLYING is what you call bullying or meanness that is online.
The way it looks online is…
being mean to other players in a video game
posting rude comments on other people’s webpages, photos, or videos
posting and sharing embarrassing or mean photos of someone online
excluding someone from participating online
These things make us feel just like we did with real life bullying…
Sometimes people are meaner online than in real life, because if you were with the person in real life, they would be able to see how bad you felt about their behaviour. Online they aren’t seeing how you are reacting to what you they are saying (example crying), and that makes people think less about the impact of what they are doing.
Here is a short video that shows an example of cyberbullying and what you can do about it.
In the video the girl talks to her parents who talks to her teachers and they put an end to the cyberbullying. It is really important to tell a trusted adult about cyberbullying if it is happening to you. They can help you to figure out what to do about it and how to stop it.
Another way to be a great digital citizen online is to stand up to cyberbullying when you see it happening to someone else. This is called being an UPSTANDER. Tell your friend who is being bullied how great you think they are. Tell the bully that mean comments are unwelcome. Or tell a trusted adult about your friend being bullied.
And finally, there are buttons on websites that say BLOCK and REPORT ABUSE.
BLOCK means that you have the ability to block somebody from being able to see or comment on your account.
REPORT ABUSE is a way to tell the website or game owner that someone is misbehaving on the site.
Never use these buttons as a joke because they are permanent and can’t be undone.
Now you know how you can stand up to cyberbullying and be a great digital citizen.
In the comments on this page, write about a time that you experienced cyberbullying or saw it happen to someone else. If you haven’t seen examples of this, write about one thing you will do if it happens to you or to a friend.
Charli D’Amelio needs no introduction and in this video she talks about a huge issue of concern to everyone, cyberbullying. We are online more now than ever. And with new social media apps and games, comes more and more opportunity to comment on strangers videos and posts and even send them DMs. Opening up our ability to communicate with new people around the world brings with it a lot of responsibility. The types of comments we are posting online say much more about us than they do about the person we are commenting on.
Cyberbullying can take many forms. A few of them are;
Trolling – The kind of bullying Charli and Dixie talk about in the video is getting hateful comments. This is called trolling. Trolls often target the same people over and over. It is important to report and block trolls when you notice them becoming a problem.
Masquerading – Someone sets up a fake profile just so that they can bully others anonymously. This is an extremely cowardly kind of bullying that makes the bully harder to catch and report.
Outing or doxing – sharing private or personal information about someone else without that person’s permission and usually to cause humiliation and shame. This can include information about or private photos and videos of that person.
Exclusion – leaving a person out of online groups or hangouts, or intentionally posting comments or photos in which a friend is excluded. This can seem like a passive form of bullying but has serious consequences on self-esteem.
Dissing – Everyone now knows about the popularity of diss tracks. But by supporting diss tracks and other forms of dissing, you are supporting bullying and spreading hate. Dissing is an attempt to ruin another person’s reputation and is often founded on false information or deliberate lies about a person.
Cyberbullying is a difficult and mostly unavoidable aspect of living a good part of our lives online. Building resilience (or a thick skin) is one way of coping with this problem. Knowing that it isn’t about YOU, it is about the person trying to hurt you. They can be feeling jealous, they may have a bad home life, they may be trying to win followers through meanness, they might be insecure. It is not that there is something wrong with you personally. And always talk about this issue with a trusted relative or teacher if things are bad. They can help you figure out some next steps.
Watch this video and post in the comments if you’ve used any of these ways to stop a cyberbully before.
Or maybe you were talking about something with your device near at hand, and then noticed an ad for something connected to what you were talking about an hour later. Coincidence? Not at all. This video explains how and why this happens, and what exactly a cookie is.
After watching the video, I want you to pair up with a friend who you share often with on social media. Imagine you are trying to collect data from each other’s information to target them with ads. What can you find out about your friend that would help you target products to them? Example: I notice that my friend is always posting photos of her dog online. If I were an advertiser, I would target her with ads for fancy dog toys, furniture, and biscuits. She often comments about how much she misses her family in Israel. I would target her with ads for chat products like Houseparty, Zoom, etc… See how many you can come up with. Write them in a Google Doc and submit to firstname.lastname@example.org
By now you are all amazing digital citizens when you’re online; you protect your private information, you don’t post mean comments on other people’s blogs, photos, or videos. You are careful about the websites you visit and you balance your time online. Now let me ask you this…
Do you remember to be a good digital citizen while you’re gaming?
What I mean by that is, when you are playing a game online like Roblox, Fortnite, or other games where you interact with other players online, are you remembering your online safety and digital citizenship rules?
You are playing a game in which players can chat with one another and you make a new friend. This friend starts asking you personal questions like ‘what school do you go to?’ and ‘what’s your address?’
What do you do?
Answer: It is great to make new friends online, but we still need to make sure and always protect our personal information. Don’t tell strangers where you live, what school you go to, personal passwords, your full name, etc… It is never safe to share this kind of information online.
During a game you notice one character won’t leave you alone. They are continuously attacking your player or making rude comments to you in chat. You really want to be mean back but you are afraid to get reported and blocked.
What do you do?
Answer: Don’t retaliate (i.e. be rude back.) Just report the players behaviour to the game and show your parents or teachers. These kind of players will end up getting blocked (kicked-out permanently) from the game. Better them and not you. After reporting them, log out for a while and try again later.
You have been playing a game for over an hour and you still can’t beat a certain level. You notice your anger level spiking really high. Your little brother keeps coming in your room and distracting you and you want to yell at him because it’s his fault you can’t beat the level.
What do you do?
Answer: It is important that we notice how our emotions are being affected by the games we are playing. If we are starting to feel angry, frustrated, rageful, and irritated, that is an indication that you have played long enough. That is your body’s way of telling you you’ve had enough screen time. Turn off the device and go outside to play if you can. Nothing clears away those bad feelings faster than fresh air. And bring your little brother with you to play! He was only bothering you because he wanted a bit of attention too! When next you play the game you will be playing with a clear head and have a much better chance of beating that level.
Here is a video where you can see some of these online scenarios in play.
Play a video game (Yes, you heard right. Make sure you have permission of course!) While you play, notice and write down a few examples of some of the positive and some of the negative interactions you have with other players. If your game doesn’t involve other players online, just write down some positive or negative feelings you experience while playing (having fun, getting frustrated, fighting with your brother etc…) Then you will post your observations in the comments on this page. It will be interesting to see what we all experience.
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 email@example.com and I will post them on this page.