Interesting data from Media Smarts, “Canada’s centre for digital and media literacy”, from a classroom-based survey of 5,436 students in grades 4 through 11, in every province and territory that examined the role of networked technologies in young people’s lives. The results of the survey are displayed in this infographic:

Young Canadiana Life Online

Some results that jumped out at me:

There’s a significant digital divide present in Canadian classrooms:

The reported numbers of students with online access are much higher than my grade 4/5 class. My “start of school” straw poll indicated less than 50% of the class had no internet connection at home. That’s significantly less than the +70% Media Smarts survey suggests is average.

Media Smarts’ numbers are averages, not maximums. For every class, like mine, with less than 50% of students online there is another class at or near 100% connected. This gap has significant implications for our public education system.

How you can teach and learn with 100% online is vastly different from that strategies available with less than 50%. Flipping the Class simply isn’t viable for classrooms and schools like ours. Last year I tried to use Edmodo but ended up having to abandon it because not enough students could access the site at home on a nightly basis. Some of my students will access the internet at the public library, but that takes a 30 minute walk downtown and it’s not something grade 4 and 5 students can do every day.

Media Smarts’ numbers suggests that about 27% of the students in my class should have their own cell phone. My class is about half of that and only one of those is a smart phone with internet access. Trying to implement a strategy like BYOD is almost impossible in our classroom.

Online Safety:

89% of students agree with the statement “I know I can protect myself online”. Students understand that, just as in ‘real life”, there are risks to being online but they still feel reasonably safe. This runs counter to much of the adult generated hysteria about the online world being unsafe for students (e.g. cyberbullying, sexting, sexual predators, etc.). We know there are dangers in our real world but we don’t, in response, keep our students at home, we teach them how to manage that risk. Students feel pretty confident in their ability to do that.

Social Media:

About a third of students under-12 use social media, even though major social media sites (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) require students to be at least thirteen years old. Most teachers know, anecdotally, that social media use is happening at a younger and younger age. It’s common for seven and eight year olds to be on Facebook and many toddlers regularly use YouTube. Our efforts to educate children about social media needs to be starting at a much younger age and needs to be both at home and in schools. If we wait until students are in high school…it’s too late.

Tech Obsessed Students?

94% of students choose to go offline for many activities and about 30% worry that they’re online too much. Maybe students aren’t the tech obsessed robots some think they are?