How do You Model What it Means to be a Socially Responsible Digital Citizen?
“Surviving adolescence is no small matter; neither is surviving adolescents.
It’s a hard age to be and to teach.
The worst thing that ever happened to anyone happens everyday.”
Young adolescents rotate the same three questions day in and day out: Who am I? How do others view me? Where do I fit in? It’s a difficult age to be, to teach and to parent. As a middle school teacher, I witnessed young adolescents try on different personas each day as they were desperately trying to figure out the answers to these three questions.
Times have changed since I first started teaching in early 1990’s. The landscape now includes digital media which makes our young adolescents on patrol 24/7. They are now circulating those same three questions online using multiple platforms to figure out the answers. It is our civic responsibility to help them learn now to navigate through social media. If we are not integrating it into our classrooms and schools, we are certainly responsible for some of the awful things that are happening all over the Internet. Take for example the recent story about the “Smut List” circulating on Facebook.
Am I naive? Could things have been different if social media had been integrated into the curriculum? Would students have stopped and questioned how this list would have hurt and humiliated others on a global level? Would they have realized that the list included names that could have been their own? Those names are someone’s daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, neighbor and friend.
We need to constantly model what it means to be a digital citizen in the 21st century. What digital footprint are we leaving behind by the comments, pictures and videos that we post? Students need the opportunity to talk about this and figure it out as part of a classroom community. Please take the time to think about your responsibility to positively influence how children and adolescents treat each other in today’s digital world.
I am committed to changing the climate of how we treat others. I’m currently conducting research with one of my colleagues. Our website, Gone Virtual has more information and we would welcome your involvement and participation in our research.