The 3rd “R” for Safer Internet Day 2019 is Reasoning. It can certainly be said that there’s not always a lot that is reasonable online. There are those trying to sell us dodgy or unwanted products or services. Those that want to argue an unfounded idea or belief. Those that want to make up and share a meme, story or article based on untruths or dangerous lies. There are those wanting to permeate fear by creating clickbait headlines to manipulate us on to their pages, sites or publications. There are media sites and journalists struggling to keep up with fact checking before stories are released to the world via blogs and smaller organisations. There are social media sites unable to do character checks or verify their users. There are those willing to say or do almost anything to get a few extra votes or likes. There are those unable to determine who they are really talking to online. Some giving away personal information in order to get a free trolley full of groceries from a Facebook site with 54 followers.
And did I really just inherit six million dollars from a far away prince?
So how do we see reason in an often unreasonable world?
We get critical with our thinking.
We teach this thinking the moment our child first picks up a device or opens an account or plays an online game.
We learn to read everything with a discerning voice in the back of our minds.
We look at photos, videos and memes with a questioning glance of the eye.
We listen to our sixth sense and that feeling that this person may not be who they seem.
We don’t need to live in a world of fear and panic.
But we do need a healthy dose of scepticism.
These critical thinking questions must be something that we teach and nurture over time. We don’t need our kids to rote learn these questions to recite every time they do something online, but we can teach them both formally and informally in our conversations, the questions we ask them, and in our interactions with them both online and in the real world.
Here are just a few examples of the critical thinking questions we all need when we consume content or connect with others online….
Critical thinking for Content Consumption
Every time we view a video or photo or read an article or update, we need these voices in the back of our minds asking…..
- Why was this article, photo, meme or video produced?
- Who created it?
- Is this backed up by others or data or research?
- Who are those ‘others’ that are backing it up?
- What does the language tell me?
- Is it bias in any way?
- Are they trying to sell me something? A product or service or idea?
- Is there a chance this is filtered? Photoshopped? Fake?
Critical thinking for Connection
And every time we connect with others online via a chat, tweet or reply, we need these voices in the back of our minds asking….
- How do I know this person is who they say they are?
- Is there a possibility they are not the gender, age or in the location they say?
- Does this person or site need this personal information about me?
- Is this something I should share with all my followers or only my friends?
- Could this comment be disrespectful to myself or others?
- If I am joking, is that obvious?
- Am I feeling uncomfortable with this conversation? Do I need to abort this interaction? Block this person? Play a different game, change my settings?
- Do I know how to do those things? Do my kids?
There are plenty of critical thinking questions we need to be asking ourselves every time we go online in order to ensure we are avoiding the often unreasonable but instead focusing on the reasonable. There is much that is positive, true, relevant, inspiring and beneficial to be found online. Let’s make sure we are finding that.