In a digital world, the media is all around us. Every day, thousands of media messages bombard us, giving us news, knowledge, entertainment, information on products, lifestyles and beliefs. Media increasingly determines what we learn, what we believe, and what actions we take as members of communities or as citizens.

Amidst this barrage of media, how do we know where and how to find accurate, independent information? How can we tell what is real and what is fake?

Media and Information Literacy helps us develop the skills to use media effectively, safely and responsibly.

This introduction to media literacy is part of CCDS\'s efforts to research and advocate for digital equality in India. It is aimed at children and teenagers in the 11–16 age-group, and can be used by students themselves, or by teachers and trainers in the classroom.





Shabnam Minwalla

Concept and research

Anjali Shenoi, Hutokshi Doctor

Layout and Illustration

Adwait Pawar

Supported by Ford Foundation

Centre for Communication and

Development Studies (CCDS)

2018 |

This workbook may be freely used for non-profit educational purposes,

as long as it is used in the original, unaltered format, and with credit to CCDS.

For queries, write to

ISBN : 978-81-936039-0-1

It’s the first day of the school holidays. sonali, rohan

and zeenat are celebrating two months of freedom

I can’t believe

exams are done.

What’s the plan


anything but


Let’s just hang out and have

lunch. Do you want to go for

a movie ? Or shopping? I need

new shoes...

can we stop at the

phone gallery?

Nothing expensive.

But I’m still really

confused. Every

phone says it is

the best.

Some take the

best selfies.

Others say

their battery

lasts longer

Others have

more memory

A new phone! Lucky.

Which ones are you

looking at?

Come on! Don’t believe

everything they claim

What do you mean?

They’re hardly gonna

lie to the whole city

Stop. Don’t say another word, Rohan. Don’t

get Zeenat started on this topic. Ever since

she attended that media workshop last month,

she’s been driving

us mad. Suddenly

she is suspicious

about everything...

everything she

reads or hears.


The media is much more than just TV and newspapers.

It is all the ways we communicate with each other. It is

the messages that fly to us from every direction. The

hoardings and the radio jingles. The WhatsApp on our

phones. The internet, Facebook, online games, and

online stores. The company logo on that umbrella and

the books in your bag are media too. Think about all

the messages and information coming at you every

minute of the day.

Suspicious about

what? TV and







me dizzy.

It’s quite scary. We

spend so much time on

Snapchat, Instagram and

WhatsApp. On TV and the


On blogs and e-zines.

Just walking down the

road, we see countless


Sometimes I feel we are

drowning in information

and opinions.

Oh yes. Demonetisation is a good thing.

Demonetisation is a bad thing.

‘Limey’ is the most refreshing lemon

drink. ‘Freshy’ has the most Vitamin C…

and on and on...

So how do we know

what to believe and

what to ignore?

Simple. Just ask Zeenat,

the Magnificent Media


A lot of it is common sense .

I usually ask myself five questions

Who created

this message ?

Is it someone

I can trust ?

Why was the message

created ? Was it to give me

information, to make me act

or think in a certain way ?

Is someone making

money or mischief

by creating this

message ?

How do I

know this


is accurate ?

Could other


interpret it



Huh? What do you mean ?

What do you think this advertisement is trying to do?

Is it trying to make you eat healthy food? Or sell you

hamburgers and colas and make you believe that

junk food is actually good for you?

You’re right. They don’t care about my health.

What they care about is that I eat their burger

and help their business to succeed. I never

thought of it like that. I am going to start

looking at ads differently from now on.

Not just advertisements.

Look at all media with a

questioning eye


Media refers to the tools we use to communicate with each other. We use

media to stay in touch with friends and family, to get the news, to watch

films and play games, to explore our country and different parts of the

world, to find a job, to reach out to our government, to express our views.




Media is also an important part of our education. When our parents

went to school, they learnt from textbooks, teachers and books in their

libraries. Today, we have one more treasure house of material — the media.


1. Media shapes our understanding of the world, and prompts us to act

or think in certain ways.

2. It is up to us to decide which messages make sense and which ones

we should not believe.

3. When we stop believing every message, we become smarter consumers

and citizens.

What do you see? Some people see

something that looks like a school


Others see two people looking at each

other in profile. But look long enough,

and you will see it both ways.

4. We need to know that every media message has a particular point

of view. It may be just one of many different points of view.

5. To understand the effects & consequences of messages that we send

6. Messages often come with motives. So we constantly need to figure

out whether a message is for information, or whether it is trying to

influence us to do something that benefits the person who sent it.






It’s the third day of the holidays. Zeenat’s

phone beeps. She checks the message from

Rohan and frowns at the picture on the screen.

What on earth? Sachin Tendulkar’s house

in Mumbai looks like this? How come I’ve

never seen pictures in the newspapers

or magazines? How strange. Let me check.

That Rohan believes anything that pops up on a

phone or computer. The internet may be a huge

storehouse of information, but it is also full

of rumours, hoaxes and misinformation. I wish

Rohan would check stuff before he forwards

it to the whole world.

Zeenat uses Google Image Search. In a minute she has

found that this unusual house does exist — but in

Mexico City, not Mumbai!

That evening, the friends meet up to complete some holiday homework. They are eating

peanuts and chatting, when Zeenat remembers the WhatsApp message of the morning.

why did you forward that

misleading picture of Sachin’s

house? It is a complete hoax.

And yesterday you sent me a weird

WhatsApp message about all drinking

water in the city being poisoned.

Have you checked any of it?

How do you know that any

of it is true?

My friends send these messages. I just

forward them. I assume they must be true.

How can you spread

rubbish and...

Stop it, both of you. Let’s finish our

report on the causes and prevention

of dengue. Can we just get it done?


That’s easy. It will all be

on the internet. We can

just copy and paste.

Wait! We must find information from a

reliable website. If we use a random

site, the information may not be accurate.

Please ! I don’t want

to spend hours on

this. I want to go

out and check

some phones.

There are many reasons to

question the information on

the internet. Do you know

who can publish material on

the internet?

Don’t tell me you’ve

started doubting

all the information

on the internet now!

That’s a bit much.

Anybody who wants to,

I guess.

Exactly. Absolutely anyone can publish information. Not

just experts on a subject. Let me show you something.

Look! More than 10 billion emails

have been sent just today. And it’s

only 11 am! And more that 2 million

blog posts written just TODAY!

I had no idea that there are

over a billion websites out

there. Now I really am dizzy.

The web is huge and deep. It is easy

to get lost if you don’t take care.

When you see how much

matter is posted every

day, you realise that not

everything can be useful

and accurate

So how do we know which websites

we can trust for our assignment?


Just check Wikipedia.

It’s fine to look at Wikipedia.

But we should also check

other, more reliable sites.

Come on, Zeenat. What’s wrong with

Wikipedia? The whole world uses it.

Just forget your media

gyan for five minutes!!!

Did you know that Wikipedia entries are anonymous?

They can be written by a number of people and can

be constantly edited? There are millions of people

who help write Wikipedia entries.

so ?

If a stranger on the road

suddenly gives you facts

and opinions on a specialised

subject, you would check

them, right?

But when a stranger gives

you facts and opinions

online, you accept them

without question. Why?

Wikipedia is great, but there is a

possibility of incorrect information

and personal biases.


david beckham

was a chinese

goalkeeper in

the 18th cent...

So how do we search

for accurate facts?

Every search has to be

conducted carefully.

You need to use the

right keywords. the

keywords should be

as specific as possible.

You can use several words,

and you can try again with similar

words and phrases in case you

do not find the right information

with your first search.

Also, you should check a

number of sites — not just

the first ones that pop up.

Let’s hope we get our

information quickly,

or Rohan will burst

with impatience.



All search engines work in three continuous stages -

Content discovery, Indexing and analysis, and Fetching

data in response to a query. They work at superfast

speeds and are usually able to present us with

thousands of options in seconds.

Search engines are important tools that can help us

rake through the masses of information available online.

There are also search engines specifically for

children, designed to protect you while online.

Search engines use programmes called ‘spiders’ that visit

websites at lightning speed and analyse all content. They

scan sites and find every page that has a reference to the

keywords, as well as pages that are linked to the keywords.

Watch out! The first set of results a search engine

throws up may not necessarily be the most relevant

or accurate. Just because a page gets a lot of hits

does not mean its information is accurate. Very often,

sponsors and advertisers ensure that their pages

show up right on top in the search results.

The spiders then make a detailed list of all the pages

that contain the keywords and store this information,

ready to be ranked and retrieved.

Quotation marks [“...”] Use quotation marks around

a phrase to search for an exact match.

In the final stage, the search engine will process Sonali’s

query and return what it thinks are the most relevant

pages. In order to determine the relevance of each page,

the engine uses a ranking mechanism that generally

includes how many times the keywords occur on that

page and the quality of data (measured, for instance, by

how popular the site is, how many visitors it gets, how

many links to the page have been posted on the internet).

Search engines are not always smart. Alongside are

some tricks and tools that can improve the quality and

efficiency of your search.

+ or – in front of certain words can broaden or

narrow your search. For example, if you are looking for

information on the Titanic but want to avoid movie

results you can use the keywords

Specify the format you are looking for – Many search

engines will allow you to search exclusively for images,

videos, news, blogs, or even scholarly articles.

Use the Google Image function to search for images.

Use the Advanced Search options on your search engine.

You can specify dates, exact words, even languages.






1. Can you tell if the site is offering

facts or opinions?

yes / no

13. Can the author be contacted

(by Email, address, or phone number)

if you have questions?

yes / no

2. Is the site free of advertising?

3. If there are ads, is it easy to tell the

difference between the ads and the rest

of the content?

4. Is it clear who the site is for?

(For example, college students

or young children)

yes / no

yes / no

yes / no

14. Does the site have enough information

for your research?

15. Is most of the information on the site

useful for your research? (If not, it

may be hard to find what you need.)

16. Can you find the date when the article,

page, or site was created?

yes / no

yes / no

yes / no

5. Is the site sponsored by any

organisations (Like a corporate house,

government or particular political party) ?

yes / no

17. Can you find the date when it was last


yes / no

6. Is the tone calm and fair?

yes / no

18. Do all the links lead to active pages?

yes / no

7. Is the site a .com, .net, .org, .edu

or .gov? (If you see a ~ in the URL, it may

be a personal site, not an official site)

yes / no

19. Can you understand the text?

20. Is the type easy to read?

yes / no

yes / no

8. Is the author identified by name?

yes / no

21. Do the titles and headings give a clear

idea of the content?

yes / no

9. Is the place the authors work at or the

organisation they belong to provided?

10. Is information on the authors provided,

and do they have the qualifications to write

on the subject of the site?

yes / no

yes / no

22. Are there photos, maps, charts, or

other illustrations that help you

understand the information?

23. Is there a tool for searching the site?

yes / no

yes / no

11. Has the author or site received any

respected awards or reviews?

12. Are sources given for facts and

statistics used on the site?

yes / no

yes / no

.COM and .NET refer to Commercial Companies

.ORG to Non-Profit/Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)

.GOV to a Government Website

.EDU to an Educational Institute


20 – 23 : You’ve got a winner! You can trust the information on the site you are referring to, and it’s easy to use too!

10 – 20 : Proceed with caution. If you use any information from this site, be sure to fact-check it on a site you can trust.

0 – 15 : Sorry, this site is a dud. It is not safe to use this site as your main source of information, so find better ones.

Source :


Publishing in print

(Books/ Newspapers/ Magazines)

Publishing online

(Websites/ Wikipedia/ Blogs/ Facebook/ Twitter...)


At the best publishing houses, content is created by

trained journalists, skilled writers or experts on the


Material is fact-checked and evaluated by skilled editors.

Once printed, the material cannot be changed unless it

goes through the same process of review and editing.

Many websites do carry content written by experts and

follow the same process of editing and checking as the

print media. But this may not be the case all the time.

Material can be posted online by anyone who has access to

an internet connection, regardless of skills or expertise.

There is no mechanism for fact-checking.

Content on the internet isn’t time-bound and may be

rewritten by multiple individuals, multiple times.

Zeenat, Sonali, I need your help.

Please come to the market with me…


I got an alarming WhatsApp

message. We are not going

to get salt, sugar and rice

after this evening. There is

a terrible shortage in the

country. I have to buy as

much as I can. You must

help me carry it home.

But Aunty, is it true?

Yes, yes. I got the message thrice in the

last hour. Then I phoned Mohana. She

says that things are crazy in the market.

People are standing

outside shops screaming.

The queues are endless.

Who sent you

these messages?

Zeenat, hurry.

Sonali, you

had better

warn your


as well.

Should I forward

the WhatsApp

message to her?

Please do not spread news until you know it

is true! Ammi, have you checked the TV?

Has the story been reported there or in

any newspaper? Has anybody explained why

sugar, salt and rice should suddenly become

unavailable? It doesn’t sound believable to me.

Sonali checks a few news channels. She

cannot find any mention of any such news.


I don’t think it is true, aunty.

Just one of those mischievous


What if it is true?

How will we manage?

How can I tell

if it’s fake?

First, find out if it is true. Anybody who

wants to create trouble can type a fake

message. Don’t add to the confusion.

It’s tough to tell the

difference between real

news and made-up news.

But now that we get so much information from

Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp and other

social media, we need to figure it out.

Check if the story has

been reported anywhere

else. Have you heard of

the organisation that has

published the story?

If you find the story

on a website, does it

look genuine? Does the

web address at the top

of the page look real?

Does it have a normal extension like

‘’ or ‘.com’, or something unusual,

like ‘’? Does the photo or video

look like it has been altered? Does the

story sound believable?

I’m also very suspicious

of propaganda. The kind of

messages political parties

send to improve their image

and run down their opponents.

Even worse are the messages

that try to create hate between

groups and communities by

spreading false information.

Look! Here’s a news report on this salt-sugar rumour.


.... A rumour swept Mumbai this morning that

essential food items like sugar and salt

were in very short supply. Thousands of

people thronged the shops and markets

across the city. Three people were hurt in

a stampede in Ghatkopar. Many shops had to

shut because desperate customers were

resorting to violence. Officials say there

is no truth at all in this rumour ...

Nobody except you! our

Magnificent Media Detective

I’m serious. You must be alert.

There are so many ways you can

be tricked and duped online.

There are scams that trick

people into buying bad or fake

products online. Then there

are scams that try to get your

financial information and other

private information, which they

then use to steal from you.

Hah! It’s amazing that nobody

bothered to check if the rumour

was true or false before smashing

shops and causing stampedes.

I keep reading about identity

theft these days. It’s creepy.

Identity thieves get hold of

your private information and

use it to pretend they are you.

So they can use your name to

post inappropriate material...

What’s that?

or they can contact your

friends or conduct bank

transactions or buy

things online. They can

even make fake driver’s

licences and PAN cards,

using your information.

really? That’s quite


Don’t get worried, aunty. Just make sure that

you never give your personal information to

people. Details like your full name, date of

birth, home address. And definitely not your

passport number or Aadhaar number or PAN

card number.

Or your bank

account or debit

card information.

Of course I won’t.

Why would anybody

go around giving

such information to



Aunty, they use all kinds of

clever tricks. Sometimes they

call and pretend they are

from your bank and need

urgent information. Sometimes

they send texts and emails

asking for information.


are called



But what if the calls

and messages are


You need to be able to smell

it when something is phishy.


1. Need to verify account information: Phony messages

will try to trick you into giving up account information

or passwords, or clicking on a phishing link where you

fill out information that identity thieves can collect

and use. Usually what they are asking for does not

make sense, because they should already have that


2. Sense of urgency: When the message says you only

have limited time to respond, it is often the sign of a


3. Spelling errors: Scam emails often include spelling

and grammatical errors. A real company would not send

out messages containing such errors.

4. Alert that account is in trouble: Identity thieves try

to make you worry that something is wrong with your

account, so you will respond to the email to fix it.

5. Link in message or attachment: Phishing emails often

have a link within the message or attachment that you

are urged to click on. This link can lead you to a site or

form where you (unknowingly) give your information to

criminals. You should never respond to or click on links in

such messages. Instead, go directly to the main website,

and check your account from there.

6. Too good to be true: Scam messages offer things

that are too good to be true, like the chance to win free

money or prizes.

7. Generic greeting: You may see a broad form of greeting

(Dear Friend, for example) that does not personally

address you. Reputed companies send emails where they

address their customers by name.


Don’t reply. Mark it as ‘junk mail’

or ‘spam’. If you are worried

about an account you have with

a company, contact its customer

service by phone.

Make sure you verify the company’s

contact information elsewhere

online first. Have strong passwords.

Keep your online accounts on the

highest privacy settings.

So what do I do if I

get an email like that?

Or just ask zeenat,

the Magnificent

Media Detective


No, no! She gives

too many lectures.


Rina receives a call

from a man who says

he is from her mobile

wallet call centre.

“Miss, Your account has

been hacked and your

password needs to be


“Can you please send

me the following details

as soon as possible so

that we can change the

password and make sure

your account is safe...”

1. Date of Birth

2. Address

3. Aadhaar Card Number

4. Old Password

Dear Friend,

This is your chance to invest in

the Maulana Azad scheme for girls

and triple your investment in a few

months. Click on the link below to

make an initial payment on

Rs 10,000 and earn a monthly

dividend of up to Rs 3,000 from the

next month onwards.

Please also provide us with your full

name and postal address. A central

government authorized receipet will

be courierd to your address once we

receive your payment.





Manager, Maulana Azad Scheme

Dear Friend,

Congratulations! A Nigerian prince has

decided to distribute his wealth to 6

lucky people across the world. You are

one of them!!

You will receive US $500,000,000.

If you choose to receive your winnings

please contact IMB INSURANCE &

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money online. Please

Contact them at:


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Contact Person : Mr. Alexander Caspari

(Director Foreign Remittance Department)

Email :

Congratulations again!

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Fake news is deliberate lies – also known as disinformation –

spread through media in order to make people believe

something untrue. This is done to discredit someone or

something. Or to create social and political disturbances.

So don’t help the mischief-makers by believing or spreading

false news.


Propaganda is the spreading of information that is biased

and designed to make people believe or act in a certain way.

A common example of propaganda is information shared

by political parties before elections, to pump up their own

achievements and to discredit their political opponents.

Propaganda is also used to spread false information about

certain groups, communities or countries, in order to promote

hostility and hatred.


A satire/ parody/spoof is generally a funny representation of

a serious issue. A spoof may contain some truth/facts, but

most often, facts are exaggerated or altered, to make them

comical but sharp critiques of what is happening in our world.

Sometimes people do not realise that an item is a spoof, and

get offended and angry instead.

It is important to have a sense of humour and to accept that

everyone has a right to express their views so long as they do

not cause harm or incite violence.


ohan and zeenat drop by sonali’s house

Great. Just in time to see my

project for English. Tell me

what you think.


What is it about?


You know what

stereotypes are.

They are simplistic


about a group

of people.

You know? All North Indians are tall and strong. All South

Indians are good at maths. All girls like playing with dolls.

All boys like guns and cars. Stereotypes are dangerous.

That’s going too far.

Stereotypes may be irritating.

But how are they dangerous?

They make us assume things

about a person just

because that person

belongs to a certain group.

They reinforce false beliefs

about how certain groups

look, think and behave. They

lead to biases.

This ad encourages people to think that little girls

always dress up in frilly frocks and play with

dolls. And that little boys like to play with trucks

and robots. Girls like pink and boys like blue.


like what?

But that is

often true...

Not always. The problem is that media images keep showing girls and

boys in a certain way and create specific ideas about how boys and

girls should act. But why shouldn’t girls like boxing and wrestling?

Why shouldn’t boys like cooking and craft?

That’s true, I guess. I enjoy

cooking. But people are always

telling me that boys don’t cook

Look closely, and you see all

kinds of stereotypes and

hidden messages. Look at this.

What do you think it is saying?

Oh no! The favourite Indian

stereotype. That only fair

is beautiful.

That fair people are

popular and successful.

That somehow or other

you must become fair.

And this one suggests that

a ‘good wife’ is one who is

always well-groomed, a great

cook, a good housekeeper.

But what’s wrong

with that?

Okay, sorry, sorry. It was a joke.

Stop throwing cushions at me.

What about

that ad?


That is an old ad from about 50 years ago.

But things aren’t that different today.

That’s true. But do you really

think these images affect our

lives? And how we think about

ourselves and other people?

Advertisements, movies, music videos still insist

that men have to be big, broad and muscular to

be taken seriously.

I think they do. We should be aware of the stereotypes

around us. Otherwise we will end up believing them. That’s

why I gave a pink bunny rabbit to Surinder Chacha’s baby boy.

What did

they say?

They looked at me like

I was mad. But the baby

loves it. He talks to it

all the time.

So Chacha and Chachi are

realising that boys can

like pink as well.


Zeenat, Sonali and Rohan are putting the

finishing touches to their project on dengue.

Don’t forget to

list our sources.

Just leave it now.

Let’s go. Otherwise

we’ll never make it

to the movie.

Mentioning sources will not

take time. But it is important.


Think about the times you have created something.

A song you wrote, a school project, a painting.

How would you feel

if somebody copied

it without giving

you credit?

I would be

really angry.

Exactly. As the creator, you have the right to

control what people can and cannot do with

your work. That is called copyright. When

people make movies and TV shows, or write

books and plays, they deserve credit for

their work. Similarly, the media around us has

been created by someone, and we need to be

responsible while using it.

We cannot just

copy the material

and pretend that we

created it. That

would be plagiarism.

There have been

cases of students

being expelled from

universities and

academics losing

their jobs because

of plagiarism.

Piracy is even

more dangerous.

When you illegally

download a movie

or software or

music, or go out

of your way to get

these things free

online, you may

end up paying a fine

or getting into

serious trouble.

But everybody does it


It is still wrong and illegal.

It is safest to always

remember the 3 A’s


Find out who created the material. Get permission to use it.


Always give credit. Buy it (if necessary), and to avoid

unintentional piracy, use trusted online sites to

purchase content.




Also, to avoid plagiarism, try and say things in your own words.

If you are quoting directly, make sure you copy the quotes

accurately and put them within inverted commas. Acknowledge

the author’s ideas by giving credit. Don’t just copy and rewrite.

Instead, rework the material and add something original.

But we took a lot of

stuff from the net for

our dengue project

That’s good. Now

can we leave for

the movie, please?

That’s why we are mentioning sources.

Also, we built upon what we found

online, and conducted a survey and

case studies at Laxmi Road.

1. Priya heard a new song on the radio. She wants to

search for it online but can only remember one line.

Which of the following tricks will help her search for the


a. The name of the radio channel she heard the song on

b. Using the words she remembers

c. Using quotation marks around the line she remembers

2. Rushabh has to do a project on India’s medal-winners

in international sports events over the last decade.

Which of the following strategies will work best?

a. Using the keywords India, medal winners, international

sports, and specifying time range in Advanced Search

b. Using the keywords medals, India

c. Using the keywords Winning sportsmen

3. Imran has received a WhatsApp forward with an image

of an uprooted road in his city and a warning about

more earthquakes to follow. He is not sure whether this

news is accurate, as he cannot find any information

about earthquakes in his city. What is the best way for

Imran to check if the image is fake?

a. Use the Google Image function to track down the image

b. Ask his friends if they have received the same forward

c. Use roads and earthquakes as keywords in a search


4. Meenu wrote a song and performed it at the school

annual day function. A week later, some of her friends

find out that Sanya, a senior student, has recorded

the same song with some of her friends and put it up

on YouTube. There is no mention of Meenu anywhere.

This is a violation of Meenu’s copyright over her song.

a. True

b. False

Zainab is writing a report on Mahatma Gandhi for a

school project. She has found a reliable source and

wants to use some facts and figures from there.

Which of the following is the responsible way to use

the information?

a. Use the information with a reference to the source,

the author and the date of the text

b. Use the information as it is without any reference to

the source

c. She should not use information from the internet


Sonali and Zeenat are looking for a birthday gift for Rohan. They have checked

various sites. Every few minutes, the computer throws up pictures of the

T-shirts they have been viewing – and other similar items of clothing.

It is almost as if this machine can read our minds.

Well, if not our minds,

it can certainly read

our digital footprints.

Computers, cell

phones, the internet,

digital videos, social

networking sites,

video games all make

up the Digital Media.

Whenever you visit a website, for

example, you leave a trail. Your

digital footprints are the traces

that you leave online – a bit like

your footprints while walking

on the beach.



That is an



Have you ever looked at your internet

browser history? You will find a list

of all the websites you’ve visited. Every

time you access a site, you are leaving

information about yourself online.

Sometimes you are voluntarily

passing on information, like if you are

registering to play an online game.

But sometimes you are sharing this

information without knowing it—for

example, when you shop online.

In detective novels and

serials, they are able to

identify websites that the

suspect visited ages ago.

And even locate old,

deleted emails.

I think it is. We tend to

think of WhatsApp messages

or Instagram pictures as

fleeting things. But once

you post something online,

it could be there forever.

So we need to understand

that whatever we do online

has consequences.

I always find it strange that

people give themselves names

like RaghuRomeo & AngryYoungMan.

Or that they post strange,

private pictures. Don’t they

care about the image they are


I wonder if that

is possible.

What if those pictures come

back to haunt them years

later, when they are applying

for a job or something?

Exactly! When we post photos, art, poetry,

video and blogs, we are being creative and

developing a world for ourselves online.

But the internet is an open environment.

Personal information is collected and stored

by companies that want to sell you stuff. So

you never know who is keeping tabs on you.

Is it possible to

protect ourselves?


At the workshop, they taught us the difference

between Personal and Private information.

Personal information

like age, gender,

favourite foods and

hobbies cannot be

used to identify us.

But private

information, like

our Aadhaar number,

postal address,

email id or phone

number can be used

to identify us and

should not be

shared randomly.


1. Treat your password like your toothbrush: never share it,

and change it often.

2. Always remember to log out when you have finished with

an online service.

3. Keep privacy settings on all your websites to the highest.

4. Remember that most of the websites you visit will make a

note of your visit and may also track the websites you visit

before and after theirs!

5. Let an adult know if anything you read or see makes you

feel worried or upset.

It’s strange. Sometimes the internet seems full

of friends and information. At other times it is

dark and dangerous. I enjoy connecting with

people through games, social networking

sites, blogs and forums. But I know that

online chatting can also be risky.

We don’t know who lurks behind the online

identity. There are so many stories about how

people present themselves differently online.

They lie about age, gender and even location.

I guess people do it for fun. To create a fantasy

world, to experience a different life. But there

are people who create fake identities to deceive

and cheat. The problem is, you never know.

Like that business about Manav. Have you heard?

He has been chatting online with some girl called

Joan who is apparently from New York. She wrote

and said that she is coming to India and wants to

meet him alone to get to know him better. I told

Manav he should be careful.


He should never meet her alone! But then,

look at Sanya. She has been chatting with some

guy called Hrithik25 for about a week now.

They have been flirting a bit, but yesterday he

said something that might have been kind of

inappropriate. Then he wrote, “Can I show u a

pic?” And followed it up with, “Keep this private

ok? I like u, Sanya. I hope u like me 2.”

I hope Sanya has stopped chatting with him! It

sounds really inappropriate. But sometimes it

is difficult to know what to do. My cousin

Karina is 15. She uses a chat room for

teenagers where her name is PrettyKari15. A

guy called MikeyMike99 said ‘hi’ to her a few days

ago, and they have talked every day after that.

He is really easy to chat with, but she has been

careful not to tell him anything too personal.

They chat about movies and TV and hobbies. It

seems okay, as long as the conversation is

clean and does not make her uneasy.

What do you think?

If she ever feels

uncomfortable, she

should change the

subject. If she still

feels pressurise d,

she can just stop

typing and log out.

Yup. In an extreme

situation, you can

always block or

report the user.

Sanya should

definitely avoid


and if he stalks her

online she should

take firm action.

Maybe she should talk to

her parents. From what you

are saying, I see a big red

light up ahead.

Stop! Too


to Proceed

The person you are talking to is

clearly acting inappropriately, and the

conversation needs to end.

What light?

Slow Down,

be Cautious

and be


to Stop.

Something about this conversation makes

you feel uncomfortable, You’re alert for

any signs of inappropriate or suspicious



When people drive, they use

traffic lights to decide when

to move forward, and when

to stop. Similarly, the

Internet Traffic Lights help

us in confusing situations.

Coast is

clear. But

look both


You feel safe and enjoy interacting

with this person online. But you also

remember that all conversations can take

unexpected turns, so you’re prepared to

put the brakes on if you need to. You have

not provided any private information.

Source: Adapted from


Remember Rehaan? He is just 12 years

old. He got an invite from a friend to

join a private Facebook group called


Then he was given a task a day, and he

could only exit the group once all

50 tasks were completed.

To be part of the group, Rehaan had to

provide information about his family,

siblings, school, friends etc.

He had to provide photographic

evidence of the completion of

each task.

Or Preeti? Preeti has joined

a Facebook group called

Fanclub of Candy Crush.

Tanya, who says she is from New York, asks

Preeti if she would like to chat outside the

group on their personal messenger as well.

She enjoys playing Candy Crush and has

met many others her age from around

the world through this group.



1. Once online, things can stay there forever

2. Digital footprints can be searched or shared

3. The internet is a public space with a large audience

4. You should always think before you post online

5. You should keep certain personal details private

6. Individuals can take control of their digital


7. They can be helpful or harmful to reputations

1. Has this person asked me to keep any information secret?

2. Has this person flirted, or asked me about

anything inappropriate?

3. Has this person asked me about anything private?

4. Have I felt pressurised by this person to do anything?

5. Do I feel scared or uncomfortable when I talk to

this person?

If the answer is ‘Yes’, then this friendship is risky and it is

time to stop talking to this person. You deserve better!


1. Present yourself in a way that is positive and not

harmful to you.

3. Do not say or do things that harm other people

or betray their trust.

2. Treat people the way you would treat them in




Exercises adapted from


Look at the online profile below. Cross out any

information that is not safe to post.

1. Full name

2. Age

3. Home address

4. School name

5. Email address

Name: Rishabh


Favourite Sport: Cricket

Birth Date: February 2, 2005

School Name: DUP Public School

6. Gender

7. Favourite movies

8. How many siblings you have

Mansoor received two emails. Which email should he ignore?

9. Names of your pets

10. Aadhaar card number

11. Phone numbers

12. Favourite food

13. Parents’ names

14. Bank / Card details

15. Passwords

16. Password hints

Dear Mansoor,

We found a problem

with your email

account. Please send

us your full name and

current password so

we can fix it. You will be

sent a new password

once the problem is



The SmartMail Team

Dear Mansoor,

How are you? Could you

please send me a small

note about yourself

so that we can publish

it along with your

article in the school

magazine? You can talk

about your hobbies and






If you are old enough to be on a social network like

Facebook, check your privacy settings. The default

privacy setting is ‘Public’, so everyone can see what you

post. Whatever you want only your friends to see, you

must make visible only to them.

While surfing the internet, have you noticed how that

jacket or dress you have been eyeing on an e-shopping

site are following you around on every page you open?

They also show up in your social media newsfeed. Cookies

are what allow this to happen.

Try doing a Google search on yourself. You may be

surprised to find that there is information publicly

available about you that you may not want public.

You can even ask people who have put up pictures of

you without your permission to take them down,

or to remove the tags that identify you.

Cookies are small files that shuttle between the servers

where content is hosted and your internet browser.

While some cookies make surfing easier because they

store your preferences, the third-party cookies used by

marketers collect information on your online activities

and keep pushing related ads at you.


Remember that you can clear and manage cookies from

the Settings tab on your browser. You do not have to

clear all cookies. You can clear cookies on individual sites

that you find most pesky.

Sonali and Zeenat haven’t seen Rohan for a couple of days, so they call him.


What did he say? Why are

you looking upset?

Hi Rohan! Where

have you been?

Busy. I will call in

a couple of days.

rohan said he was busy and

would call in a couple of


What could be the matter?

I don’t know…

I hope nothing is the matter.

If you are so

worried, let’s

go to his house.


The two girls walk to

Rohan’s house. he opens

the door, looks around

nervously and waves

them in.

Why have you come?

Just to say hi.

What’s wrong?

I don’t want the others to see you. They have

been posting crazy stuff on our WhatsApp

group, saying that you and I are dating.

They have posted pictures of us, and

forwarded the messages to other chats.

Everybody is teasing me. It is best that

we don’t hang out for a few weeks. Then,

hopefully, it will stop.

They are posting some really

offensive stuff. It has

spread everywhere. Even the

football coach was laughing

yesterday. It started out as

harmless teasing, but now it

is worse.

How can you let those idiots affect you like this?

Why don’t you ignore them? It is just silly teasing.


It’s cyber-bullying, Rohan.

It is best that you don’t

respond or retaliate in

any way. Tell the people

who are doing it to stop,

and save all the evidence.

It is easy to say all

this. But when it’s

happening to you,

it’s terrible.

I know, Rohan.

Why do you think I

signed up for the

media workshop?

If necessary, we can talk

to our parents or to

the school. But don’t

let those bullies cast

a shadow over your life.

Because I was being

bullied online and

I did not know how

to handle it.

It was an awful time for

Zeenat. You know how good

she is in school, and the

others are always a bit

jealous of her.

At first it was fun and I was doing all the regular

stuff—posting pictures, forwarding jokes and

stories. But Bina and I have never been friends,

and one day she started sending jokey messages

about how much I studied and how nerdy I was.


When she got her phone

last year, she joined all

our WhatsApp groups.

I ignored it, but her remarks got nastier and

spread to the other groups. Bina and her gang

kept forwarding jokes about me. I felt awful.

I was afraid to check my messages. I started doing

badly at school. I felt that the phone and social

media were my enemies. That is why I grabbed the

chance to do the media workshop.

It helped?

I started to understand the media, which

is such an important part of our lives.

I realised that cyber-bullying is regular

bullying – but spreads easily because

of media like WhatsApp and Instagram.

I used this knowledge to help myself

and others. I blocked Bina and her

friends, and others in the class also

began to block her.

A couple of months

ago, Ameena sent a

video of herself

dancing to her best

friend, Sheela.

Sheela showed it

to others at

school and they

found it funny.

So they posted in on YouTube. Lots of people

posted nasty comments.

Poor Ameena was really upset, but Zeenat

took up the matter in school. The bullies were

warned and made to remove the YouTube video.

Was the school supportive?

Very supportive! In some countries,

there have been cases of kids committing

suicide because of cyber-bullying.

Nobody wants that.

So when is something

considered cyber-bullying?


When the teasing crosses a line and

becomes actively harmful. Cyber-bullying

includes sending hurtful messages, posting

embarrassing photos or videos on social

media, and spreading rumours online.

Wow, Zeenat! You really are a Magnificent Media

Detective. Let me think about how to handle this.

Meanwhile, shall we go and buy my phone?

Otherwise, I have a

feeling that the

entire holidays will

pass, and I will

still be staring at

advertisements and

wondering what to




1. Harassment

Bombarding a person with messages over

digital media

Which of the following are examples

of cyber-bullying?

2. Deception

Impersonating a person by using fake names, posing as

someone or creating a fake profile of someone with the

intention of damaging their reputation.

1. Every time Raman messes up in an

online game, another player sends him

messages making fun of him. Raman

thinks the messages are funny, until

he gets one that hurts his feelings. Is

Raman being cyber-bullied?



3. Flaming

Saying mean and derogatory things, usually in ALL CAPS,

with the intention of humiliating a person.

4. Hate speech

A verbal attack targeting someone because of their

race, gender, religion, ability, or sexual orientation,

with the intention of discriminating against them.

Source: Adapted from

2. Forwarding photos of a friend with

hurtful comments without his/her


3. Saying something mean to someone

based on their caste, class or religion.

4. Altering photos of a friend in a goofy

way, but not in a mean way.

5. Making a physical threat online.

6. Physically pushing someone.












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