One of my favorite parts of our 5th and 6th grade media literacy classes each day is the start of each lesson, when we (usually) watch and discuss a variety of “Wonder Links.” I used to call these “Curiosity Links,” but changed over to “Wonder Links” this year. Basically, these are videos or articles which can provoke some class discussion and reflection on a topic related to emerging technology, the ethics of coding or technology use, or something else related to media literacy.

A couple weeks ago, one of my 5th grade students (Chase) asked to share a couple videos he’s found online, which raise issues others should know about. The first one is a February 2021 video titled, “Minecraft’s Deadliest [Illegal] Hacked Client,” which (as of this writing) has almost 2 million views. Although they are just in 5th grade, a number of my students are aware of different “third party Minecraft clients” (which means they are NOT “official builds” from Microsoft and are coded by independent developers) which can provide users with special powers and features. As highlighted in the video, however, some of these “hacked clients” can also include MALWARE which can steal login credentials for not only Minecraft but also Discord, Google, and other web services.

The second video Chase shared with our class is from “The InfoGraphics Show” channel on YouTube, and it’s titled, “Computer Virus That Caused $50 Billion Damage.” It’s very well crafted, and highlights an all-too-familiar situation where social engineering techniques are used trick people into clicking malicious links in email. The result can be further spread of the malware software, as well as the theft of login credentials and other personal information. The malware infection in this case, however, was “MyDoom” in 2004, which was (and still is, as of this writing) “the fastest-spreading e-mail worm ever.” In the contexts of digital security and our ongoing “Conspiracies and Culture Wars” project, this is an important event to study and understand.

I love that Chase is helping educate our middle school students / his classmates about Internet and web safety! In addition to these videos, I encourage you to check out our media literacy lessons “Don’t Get Tricked Online” and “Password Safety and Scratch Account.” I also recommend my own March 2020 recorded webinar, “Protecting Yourself and Your Family Online.”

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