Researcher dispels myths about cyberbullying

Myth or Fact?

  • There is more online bullying than in-person bullying
  • Cyberbullying is more distressing because it follows you home and is on all your digital devices
  • Cyberbullying is getting worse
  • Teen suicide is a growing epidemic due to cyberbullying and the dangers of the Internet

According to Michele Ybarra, president of the Center for Innovative Public Health and a leading researcher on youth risk, these are ALL MYTHS.

Read the real facts in this article and radio interview by Larry Magid of


2012 election resources

The election is a national teachable moment — don’t let it go by without your students diving in!

Other lists of election 2012 resources for teaching and learning:



I’ll write that app for you

classRecently, MIT App Inventor featured a story about Pauline Lake, a Trinty College student in Connecticut who developed and runs an app invention class for high school students. Curious, I gave Pauline a call and we talked about her idea and how the class has run.

App Inventor is a set of tools and resources to write software applications (apps) for the Android phone. Google has given/shared the Android App Inventor with MIT so it is freely available for all to use. EdWeek has also profiled a couple of programs where young people learn to write apps.

But Pauline’s story struck me. Here was one young college student who wanted to do something to help other young people learn important skills. Pauline told me that she is pursuing two majors, education studies and computer science, and that she is the only one at her college doing that. She went on to talk about how she has shaped her course and the resources over several trials in local schools, learning what works best to engage high school students. She’s even taught students as young as 4th to 6th grade how to program apps. Although she’s won awards for her work (and met Michelle Obama at the White House), she worries that the programs won’t continue. However, she is working to spread the idea locally and with presentations at STEM conferences in her area.

But most of all what impressed me was her pride in her students and the changes that a simple programming class had brought to their lives. When you talk to Pauline, it is not difficult to see that creating engaging learning experiences in computer science for young people really matters.

Her resources and lesson plans are all free online on her website.


Young activists tackle bullying prevention

Anne Collier of Net Family News has collected some examples of youth-led responses towards solving bullying in their schools and communities. As you know at Generation YES, we believe strongly that youth-led initiatives are an outstanding way of involving youth as leaders and problem-solvers. These initiatives can really make a difference!

Read more about:

  • The Voice – a program where high schools students buddy with younger students to become “hallway friends” and become mentors and role models.
  • Torin Hovander in Albuquerque, NM and his friends who started a bullying prevention club in their high school. Their goal is to raise awareness and spread the club to all 13 district high schools.
  •  Aidan McDaniel and friends who hold a “friend zone” at his West Virginia school’s cafeteria so that students can have a safe place to eat.

As Anne concludes, “There are so many things about these social-good projects to celebrate, including that young people 1) aren’t waiting around for adults to end bullying and social aggression, 2) are taking positive, supportive action in diverse ways that are meaningful to them, 3) are showing a remarkable level of commitment to solving the social aggression problem, 4) instinctively get what the research says, that the solution is not punishing individuals but changing the community’s culture and 5) are creating that school climate through a collective, whole-school approach. They are modeling the respect they so deserve!”

Congratulations to all the students profiled!


Engagement, responsibility and trust

A few weeks ago I was on a panel for a Connected Learning webinar with Howard Rheingold:  Social Media and Peer Learning: From Mediated Pedagogy to Peeragogy.

Webinar archive here…

Early on, Howard talked about the idea that responsibility and trust work together. This is something I’ve been saying for a while. Here’s a graphic that I frequently use in my talks.

empowerment cycle
Feel free to use — with credit!

All these things are interrelated. I think we completely miss the boat when we talk about Digital Citizenship. Mostly it’s about rules and things students shouldn’t do. The word citizenship is such a good clue – it’s about belonging to something bigger than yourself. Engagement is part of that.

You often hear people talk about how technology is so “engaging” for kids. But that misses the point. It’s not the technology that’s engaging, it’s the opportunity to use technology to create something that is valued by the community and by yourself. Yes, a new device can be entertaining for a while, but when the novelty value wears off, what are you left with?

Engagement is not a goal, it’s an outcome of students (or anyone) doing meaningful work. Meaningful to themselves AND to the community they are in. Meaningful because someone trusted them to do something good and they shouldered the responsibility. Engagement is not something you DO to kids or you GIVE kids, it’s the outcome of this cycle of experiences.

Howard was talking about giving students in graduate school the responsibility to be co-creators of learning, the trust that that engenders, and the engagement and empowerment that ensues.

I think this can (and should) happen in K-12 education as well.


Free webinar – Social Media and Peer Learning

Social Media and Peer Learning: From Mediated Pedagogy to Peeragogy
Discover how giving students more responsibility in shaping their own curriculum can lead to more active participation.

I’m going to be on the panel for this webinar from Connected Learning, moderated by Howard Rheingold and Mimi Ito. I hope you can join us for a lively conversation!

When: Tuesday, April 10, 9AM Pacific (find the time in your time zone)

Howard Rheingold is the author of Tools for ThoughtThe Virtual CommunitySmart MobsNet Smart and teaches at Stanford University, Communication Department. Mimi Ito is  the author of Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out and a cultural anthropologist of technology use, focusing on children and youth’s changing relationships to media and communications.

UPDATEWebinar archive here…

I’m excited! See you there –


E-rate Webinar Alert! Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act: What Schools Must Do

Webinar: Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act: What Schools Must Do

Date: April 5, 2012

Time: 7PM Eastern time (90 min)

Price: $39 (includes archive access and 2 page issue brief)

I would like to encourage you to attend a webinar that Embracing Digital Youth will be presenting tomorrow for K-12 schools in the U.S. The webinar addresses the requirements of a new statute Protecting Children in the 21st Century. This requirement to teach “Internet safety” is coming into schools in association with the E-rate – a program that provides funds for technology services in schools.
As we all know, some districts will try to find the easy way to check off this requirement. However, one-shot assemblies that focus on scare tactics DO NOT WORK – and worse, can actually be counterproductive. In this webinar, you will find out how to implement a program that will comply with the new statute AND work in your school.

Participants will gain insight into:

  • The requirements of Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act ~ a new federal E-Rate requirement.
  • The dangers of providing one-shot Internet safety instruction that uses scare tactics and presents simplistic rules.
  • The importance of using evidence-based or evidence-grounded instruction.
  • How multidisciplinary collaboration involving educational technology, school librarians, and risk prevention professionals is essential to effectively preparing students to use digital technologies in a safe and responsible manner

Participants will understand the practical steps their districts and schools should to take to translate this insight into effective strategies that work in real schools.

The webinar is Thursday, April 5, 2012  at 7 p.m. Eastern time. It is necessary to register at least 2 hours before and registration also includes the archived webinar access and a 2 page issue brief.

More information and registration information here.

This is an extremely cost-effective way to get the information you need to keep your e-rate funding!


Research to action: 5 must read bullying research briefs

A recent post by danah boyd, social media researcher announced some new resources in the effort to combat bullying, created for the new Born This Way Foundation, created by Lady Gaga and her mother.

“The Foundation wants to create a kinder, braver world so that youth can be the change-agents that we all need them to be. For youth to be empowered, the Foundation recognizes that 1) youth need to be safe; 2) youth need to have skills; and 3) youth need to have opportunities.”

danah, along with many other notable folks, are working with the new foundation. In her post, she announced a working paper series, starting with five new resources that synthesize research for the Foundation – and help schools and communities easily get the best, accessible advice to inform their local efforts. Best of all, the foundation and these working papers emphasize that youth empowerment needs to be a main focus for these efforts. This kind of insight and commitment is admirable – this is NOT a feel-good celebrity cause for the cameras.

This working paper series offer practical, ground-level resources based on the best available research. The first five documents are:

They are looking for comments and feedback on these documents –  send them to


Webinars – Addressing youth risk in a positive and restorative manner

from Nancy Willard of Embracing Digital Youth: Addressing youth risk in a positive and restorative manner

Embracing Digital Youth is proud to announce our first two Webinars. Through these Webinars, Embracing Digital Youth will seek to help educators, mental health professionals, law enforcement, and policy-makers engage in prevention and intervention activities that are grounded in research insight, focus on influencing positive behavior and implementing restorative practices, and encourage effective evaluation.

A 2-page Issue Brief for each Webinar will provide insight and recommendations for practice. The Webinars will be available for later viewing in our archive. Documentation will be provided to support professional development continuing education requirements.

Register online at: (Cost $39)

*Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act: What Schools Must and Should Do* – April 5 at 7:00 P.M. Eastern Time.

The Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act added a provision to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requiring that schools receiving E-Rate funding provide students with instruction in Internet safety, including cyberbullying and social networking safety. School agencies receiving E-rate funding must update their policy so they can certify they are providing Internet safety instruction, beginning with funding year 2012 (July).

This Webinar will provide recommendations on how districts can engage in effective multidisciplinary planning to ensure that the manner in which they will provide Internet safety instruction is grounded in accurate research insight, uses effective approaches to promote positive norms and transmit effective skills, and incorporates evaluation to ensure effectiveness.


  • Mike Donlin, Program Supervisor in The School Safety Center of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for Washington State.
  • Lisa Jones, Research Associate Professor of Psychology at the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.
  • Connie Williams, NBCT, Teacher Librarian, National Board Certified. Petaluma High School, California. Past President of the California School Library Association,
  • Eric Willard, Chief Technology Officer – Community Unit School District 300, Illinois.

*Positive Peer-based Approaches to Address Cyberbullying* – April 26th at 7:00 P.M. Eastern Time.

Schools are struggling to address a new challenge–the hurtful behavior of students when using digital technologies. Addressing this new challenge is difficult because much of this hurtful behavior occurs in digital environments where adults are generally not present. Hurtful interactions frequently occur when students are off-campus, with the damaging impact at school.

How can educators ensure the development of a positive school climate and support positive actions by peers that will be necessary for prevention and early intervention? These three professionals are working on innovative new approaches to enhance these positive peer-based approaches.


  • Patricia Agatston, Ph.D. Licensed Professional Counselor with the Prevention/Intervention Center, a student assistance program in the Cobb County School District, Georgia.
  • Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D. Director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use/Embracing Digital Youth.
  • Karen Siris, Ed.D. Professor at Adelphi University, Garden City, NY, Principal at Oceanside Elementary, NY.

>> Registration and more information


A decade of decline in online youth victimization

It’s not the headline that’s going to make the national press. Ho hum, young people aren’t perverts or helpless victims. But here’s another slice of non-sensationalistic reality about what parents and teachers SHOULDN’T flip out about…

From the press release – “A new study from the University of New Hampshire Crimes against Children Research Center finds declines in two kinds of youth Internet sexual encounters of great concern to parents: unwanted sexual solicitations and unwanted exposure to pornography. The researchers suspect that greater public awareness may have been, in part, what has helped.

The study found that the percentage of youth receiving unwanted online sexual requests declined from 13 percent in 2005 to 9 percent in 2010. Youth experiencing unwanted pornography exposure declined from 34 percent to 23 percent over the same period.

On the other hand, youth reports of online harassment increased slightly from 2005, up from 9 percent to 11 percent.

The study, “Trends in Youth Internet Victimization: Findings From Three Youth Internet Safety Surveys 2000–2010,” was published today online in the Journal of Adolescent Health. It is based on national surveys of youth ages 10 through 17 conducted in 2000, 2005, and 2010.

“The constant news about Internet dangers may give the impression that all Internet problems have been getting worse for youth but actually that is not the case,” said lead author Lisa Jones, research associate professor of psychology at the UNH Crimes against Children Research Center. “The online environment may be improving.” Jones pointed out that unwanted sexual solicitations are down over 50 percent since 2000, when attention first was drawn to the problem.

“The arrests, the publicity and the education may have tamped down the sexual soliciting online” said author Kimberly Mitchell, research assistant professor of psychology at the UNH Crimes against Children Research Center. ”The more effective safety and screening features incorporated into websites and networks may have helped reduce the unwanted encounters with pornography.”

Jones said harassment may not have fallen because attention to that online problem has been more recent. ”Hopefully, the new focus on online harassment will produce some of the same improvements in this problem that we have seen in sexual solicitations,” she said.

The authors cautioned that unwanted sexual solicitations should not be understood as necessarily communications from adult online predators. Previous research has found that while youth do not know the source of all the unwanted sexual solicitations they receive, when they did know, half were believed to come from other youth.”

Download the PDF – Trends in Youth Internet Victimization: Findings From Three Youth Internet Safety Surveys 2000–2010

And by the way, thanks to the University of New Hampshire Crimes against Children Research Center and the Journal of Adolescent Health for making this publicly available.