Seatbelts for the Information Highway

Permanent. Everlasting. Perpetual. Eternal.

These words all emanate what happens when you post something online. Many people, especially teens, don’t understand the fact that the information posted online, even when deleted, can be found. With the numerous resources, “rules,” and dangerous on the internet, it is imperative that we as teachers educate our students on digital citizenship. In order to be a “digital citizen,” a person must be well aware of the social etiquette that comes with being an active participant online.

 

In schools across the country today, it is not uncommon to see classrooms that are 1:1 (meaning each student has a computer, laptop, tablet, etc.). With the increased use of technology in the classroom, there also needs to be an increase in education about the technology being used. The internet has a limitless amount of information. While much of this information is useful and educational, there is an equal amount of inappropriate or untrustworthy websites. In addition, students need to be aware of what they are posting online. Even though they might believe that the things they post online right now aren’t relevant to their future, it really is. As said, the information put online is there forever. This means that their future employers, children, and even strangers can access this information.

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Photo CC: sylviaduckworth

So how can we as teachers or parents prepare students and show them how they can be digital citizens who responsibly use technology? One of the resources that I personally thought would be appropriate for teaching digital citizenship was the Digital Citizenship Survival Kit. This website provides items that you can put into a “survival kit” that help remind students about important things to remember when they are online! Since I plan on teaching younger students, this is an easy way to teach digital citizenship to students in a way that they will understand. In addition, the information is presented in an interesting way so students are more likely to pay attention and retain information.

While looking through websites, I also found a video that shows viewers just how easy it is to find information about a person online. Although the video is a little cheesy, it really drives home the point that even information that was posted years ago, is still accessible. I know of many people that I am friends with on social media who have their address, phone numbers, and other personal information shared. This can be really dangerous as well because there are strangers who now have access to this personal information. This video would be useful in the classroom to get students thinking about the appropriateness, and safety, of the information they are posting.

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Photo CC: US Department of Education (Duke_Ellington 96)

Another common issue with technology today is cyberbullying. It’s truly sad to see the statistics on the number of teens, and even adults, who deal with cyberbullying on a daily basis. Part of being a digital citizen is being responsible and courteous to others. We all need to take a stand against cyberbullying and teach our students the ways that words can hurt. The lesson linked here illustrates to students the effect that words have on others and would be a great tool to teach about cyberbullying (seriously, check it out. It’s genius).

Overall, digital citizenship is an important part of life today. While many educators may balk at the idea of taking more time away from classroom teaching, the reality is that in order to incorporate technology into the classroom, it is imperative to first teach students how to appropriately and responsibly use the internet.

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