The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of hours most students have spent online academically, socially, and for entertainment. According to the Government of Canada “too many people and communities in Canada are harmed and victimized by hate speech, which is often amplified and spread online. Exposure to hate is one of the current risks to students when they engage online. In a digital world, students must be taught to think critically and to analyze multiple, often conflicting perspectives as they navigate online, consume and produce content online.
The Ontario Curriculum for Language Grades 1 to 8 (2006) did not contemplate expanded access and engagement in online gaming and social media among younger students when the expectations were written in the Media Literacy Strand of Language in 2006. The Health and Physical Education Curriculum, Grades 1 to 8 (2019), has expectations which will be useful in addressing issues of cyber safety, bullying and the propagation of hate and racism online.
Teaching of online safety and digital citizenship in the context of raising awareness about hate and racism takes place, connected to the curriculum, once resources are developed and/or curated.