The importance of Digital Citizenship

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Photo courtesy of Master isolated images

Photo courtesy of Master isolated images

To be a teenager today is probably a nightmare scenario for some. For others, now is probably as exciting a time as ever to be traversing those rugged years.

As a parent, I observe the messages and influences that bombard my children and reflect on the time when Cub Scouts, church and the neighbourhood were the extent of my ‘Social Network’. My how things have changed – in just the past 15 years!

Nowadays, with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Formspring and so many others Рthe number of factors that influence students has grown exponentially.

As an educator, I feel that I have an obligation to facilitate students’ learning of the world in which they exist – including the bits that may do them some harm. That digital connected-ness has brought the bogey-men of bullying and harassment¬†back to the forefront of our educational¬†consciousness is not a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Learning – and teaching – digital citizenship is more than just about being ‘safe’ online, it’s about guiding students to explore and discover what it means to be a good digital citizen. Just as we have all learned to assess and adapt to cultural expectations that are placed upon us, students today need to do the same for the expectations that a ‘good’ society has of them in their digital lives.

Learning digital citizenship is not an assembly or a presentation. It is the curriculum. It is the content. It is the milieu in which we want our students to live. We need to add to our new College mantra “Respect: every day, every person, every class… everywhere

Where to start? There is no digital citizenship program at my school. There needs to be one. So I’m going to sit down with some students and write one.

“To sell life as an exercise in mistake-avoidance is not only impractical but it is wholly unhelpful and untruthful.” @JoeBower, @tombarrett via Twitter

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Hi David,
I’m new to your blog and was just having a wander through when I stumbled on this post. I have begun a Digital Citizenship program with the Year 9’s at my school and I can’t under state the value, even if they don’t fully appreciate it now we hope that they will in the future. We have found the book, ‘Digital Citizenship in Schools’ by Ribble and Bailey to be incredibly useful. It has provided a really good spring board for ideas.

Love the blog!