The Ontario Curriculum for elementary schools recognizes the importance of and strongly encourages the use of technology to support learning in all curriculum areas. Elementary schools are more equipped with higher levels of technology to support and extend classroom learning than ever before. With this increased ability to explore the cyber world and all the benefits that come with it, there is also a set of concerns for the personal safety of the children and youth using this technology. As a result, appropriate policies are required to ensure all students are able to learn in a safe and supportive environment with the tools needed to achieve success.
Information and communications technology (ICT) provides a range of tools that can significantly extend and enrich teachers’ instructional strategies and support students’ learning in health and physical education. ICT tools include multimedia resources, databases, the Internet, digital cameras, and an extensive array of specialized software. Computer programs can help students to collect, organize, and sort the data they gather, and to write, edit, and present reports on their findings. ICT can also be used to connect students to other schools, at home and abroad, and to bring the global community into the local classroom.
Although the Internet is a powerful learning tool, all students must be made aware of issues of privacy, safety, and responsible use, as well as of the potential for abuse of this technology, particularly when it is used to promote hatred and bullying1.
Cyber dangers: The Current Environment
- 99% of Canadian youth have access to the Internet outside of school
- 78% of students use the Internet to find information about news, health issues or relationships
- 67% of Grade 7 students have a Facebook account; one third of Grade 7 students have accounts on Twitter and four out of ten have Instagram accounts
- 50% of Grade 7 students pretend to be someone else online to protect their privacy (although they also admit to doing this to access sites they shouldn’t, with half pretending to be older than they are on age-restricted websites).
- 77% of Grade 7 students trust their parent(s) to help them solve online problems
- 68% of students in Grade 8 own a cell phone. Most are using their phones to stay in touch with friends and family and close to half admit to sleeping with their phone at night
- Close to a third of students have gone online to ask an expert or other kids for advice about personal problems
- Among students who own a cell phone, 4% of those in Grade 8 have sent a sext of themselves to someone and 17% have received a sext directly from the creator
- A third of students in Grade 8 have been mean or cruel to someone online, with name calling the most frequent type of bullying
- The most common responses to being bullied online for Grade 8 students is ignoring it, asking friends for help, asking parent/guardians for help and talking face-to-face with the person
1Ontario Ministry of Education. (2015).The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1 to 8: Health and Physical Education, 2015 (Rev. ed.). Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health1to8.pdf
2Media Awareness Network. (2015). Young Canadians in a Wired World – Phase III, Profiles of Kids in Grades 6-7 Retreived from http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/mediasmarts/files/pdfs/publication-report/summary/ycwwiii_trends_recommendations_profiles_6-7.pdf
3Media Awareness Network. (2015). Young Canadians in a Wired World – Phase III, Profiles of Kids in Grades 8-9 Retreived from http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/mediasmarts/files/pdfs/publication-report/summary/ycwwiii_trends_recommendations_profiles_8-9.pdf