Canadian singer Scott Helman and comedian Jackie Pirico with student volunteers at White Oaks Public School at #RiseAbove rally, October 12, 2017. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Students Told To Pause Before Posting

A group of London students took a pause from their school day to learn about the value of taking a pause before posting or reacting on social media.

The TELUS #RiseAbove rally to combat cyberbullying came to White Oaks Public School on Bradley Ave. on Thursday. Students in Grades 6, 7, and 8 took part in the hour-long interactive gathering, hosted by Canadian singer/songwriter Scott Helman and comedian Jackie Pirico.

The duo, with the help of student volunteers, showed how waiting a few minutes before reacting to what you see online can help prevent a situation from escalating or hurting someone else’s feelings. The kids called out their favourite social media platforms including Snapchat and Instagram before being given real-life scenarios where those platforms could be used to bully a person.

In one scenario, a picture was posted of two girls wearing the same outfit with the caption “obviously, I wore it better.” A second example involved choosing sides when a couple breaks up.

“Cyberbully is a serious issue that affects 42% of Canadian youth on a monthly basis,” said Nimmi Kanji, director of TELUS WISE. “The online world is driven by fast clicks and quick decisions and almost half of teens have posted something online that they later regretted. By encouraging youth to pause and reflect before they post or comment, we hope to foster thoughtful and considerate digital citizens, now and into the future.”

The rally was one of only three being held in Ontario this month. It ended with all of the kids in attendance vowing to pause before they post on social media.

“I am new to social media, so this showed me that I have to be careful when using it and now I am more aware of what to avoid so I can prevent bad online behaviour,” said Grade 8 student Sally Berro.

Grade 7 student Jack Staeadman said without taking that minute of reflection, hurtful messages are easily posted online

“The other day, I posted something that made another person feel bad so as soon as I could I took that post down and apologized to the person that I embarrassed,” said Staeadman. “For the future, what I learned at the rally is definitely going to help me and hopefully other people be more safe around the internet and be a good person on the internet.”

Along with taking a pause, students were encouraged to consult with a trusted adult or call Kid’s Help Phone for advice and tips to prevent and stop cyberbullying.

TELUS WISE is a free service, launched in 2013, that offers internet and smartphone safety programming and resources for kids, teens, parents, and teachers. The next #RiseAbove rally will be held in Ottawa.