If you talk to any parent, teacher, or principal, there is nothing more important than the safety and security of our students at home and at school. It’s their number one concern to protect our youth from the injustices of this world; however, as we continue to protect students from the analog world, we often times forget to adequately protect them from the complex ever-changing digital world.
Being responsible citizens in the analog world is embedded in the everyday conversations, lessons, and interactions between students, parents, and teachers, and those embedded discussions need to exist in order to encourage good digital citizenship as well.
As we teach digital citizenship, we must encourage the appropriate use of technology, including the physical devices and the digital world they connect students to. A good framework for students, parents, and teachers to follow are the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship.
Here are 5 practical ways to embed good digital citizenship habits into students everyday lives.
1. Set restrictions on where and when technology can and should be used. Don’t allow devices to be used at the dinner table. Don’t allow devices to be used 2-3 hours before bedtime. And limit the number of hours devices can be used at home during leisure time.
2. Talk to your children at home daily about how they are using devices, and whenever possible have them use devices in a communal place with appropriate supervision.
3. “Never talk to strangers,” is one of the most common ways parents and teachers teach students to protect themselves. This same sentiment applies online. Protect students privacy and keep them safe and secure by encouraging them to not share personally identifiable information of any kind online. That includes location information (including photos that attach metadata), full name, and visiting and using only approved websites and applications.
4. Be a positive example and role model for students to emulate. Students will model what they see their parents and teachers doing with technology. Students will not do what you say, they will do what you do. Never EVER drive distracted. Model appropriate use of technology in the home, classroom, and other public settings. Adults should have good digital citizenship too.
5. Always remind students to T.H.I.N.K. before they post any text, videos, and/or photographs online. Their digital footprint is traceable and unerasable. In recent years, students have lost jobs, scholarships, and been kicked out of school because of negative posting online and bad digital footprints. Students want to know that the digital footprint that they leave behind is worth following.
This is not an exhaustive list, visit www.digitalcitizenship.net and www.commonsensemedia.org for more information on keeping our children safe and secure in a digital world and to learn more about digital citizenship. As education technology integration continues to grow and expand, parents and teachers can help students navigate the murky waters of the digital oasis with ease.