By Bobinec, Greg on February 27, 2020.
The Boys and Girls Club of Lethbridge and District invited around 70 students from southern Alberta to a youth conference to learn about the impact of misinformation in the media.
As part of the Boys and Girls Club’s annual “I Stand Against” conference, organizers wanted to bring awareness about the world of technology and misinformation and to give youth the tools and knowledge on how to identify it and how to think about it.
“We are holding a youth conference based on media manipulation,” says Adam Saley, Youth Services director with Boys and Girls Club of Lethbridge and District. “It is in a series of a yearly event that we host called ‘I Stand Against,’ so every year we take on a topic about abuse or discrimination, and this year we had the opportunity to get a grant to partner with Samara Centre for Democracy on identifying fake news and misinformation that happens in our online and digital media, and to really give young people the tools and the power to be able to identify correct political articles and inform them because they are the future of voting in our country, so we can make sure that everything is accurate for them.”
The high school students went through a variety of activities to help learn and understand concepts such as algorithms, targeted marketing and politically incorrect articles. Saley says the topic of misinformation online and online safety has been one floating around the youth centre, and they thought it would be a good time to address some of the issues youth in the community are facing.
“Something in our youth centre that we hear a lot from youth is lots of misinformation that they see online and all of the discussions that happen around those articles because they are very believable,” says Saley. “They pretty much believe everything they see on Instagram or Facebook, so we really wanted to provide young people with the tools to navigate the online world. Especially things like privacy like what information social media has on everybody such as location, searches and how they use that to their advantage, so giving the tools to youth so they know what to do and how to be safe online.”
Students were also able to take in advice from keynote speaker Craig Silverman, media editor of Buzzfeed News, who helped them learn how to identify misinformation in news, as well as how it can lead to polarization and disengagement. Saley says this was a great first youth conference for The Boys and Girls Club, as they have been wanting to provide more opportunities for youth to help them navigate through life.
“It has been amazing, this is the first time that we have really done a conference for youth and we really wanted to grow what ‘I Stand Against’ is, and to be able to bring more education and awareness to youth, to really give them the tools to navigate in our society today,” says Saley.
As youth throughout southern Alberta start to learn the ways of the internet and the different ways it can be manipulated to change points of views, The Boys and Girls Club of Lethbridge and District hope they provided new ways to view the internet, safely and securely.
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