4 Keys to Becoming a Good Digital Citizen
The separation between the digital world and the “real” world becomes smaller daily. Technology is everywhere: the grocery store, doctor’s office and of course, at school. Today’s students carry cell phones in their pockets that are more powerful than the NASA command center that helped men first land on the moon! Students need to recognize that technology offers both positive and negative implications and will have a lasting impact on their lives today and in the future. Drawing from concepts that have been taught for many years regarding the physical world, here are my four keys to preparing students to be good (digital) citizens.
Protect privacy & personal information
Understanding and managing privacy gives a person control over when, how, and to what extent specific personal information is communicated with others. We know that protecting personal information like phone numbers and social security numbers is critical. Password protection, managing security settings and not sharing personal information or interacting with people you do not know are all imperative topics that students must be taught from a young age to avoid becoming vulnerable to many abuses.
Understand that everything leaves a footprint
In the natural environment, the impact a person has on the environment is called their ecological footprint. The concept of a digital footprint is just as important for students to understand and to recognize that their digital footprint can follow them wherever they go. Students need to be aware that everything that they post can be easily seen by an infinite audience, and even if they try to delete the post it could be on the internet forever. Ensure that your students focus on the importance of developing a positive digital identity.
Be kind and think of others
Bullying now extends beyond the playground. Cyberbullying has become an increasingly alarming trend among today’s students, with 81% of young people thinking that bullying is easier to get away with in cyberspace than bullying in person. Students need to understand the extreme reach of their negative words when they bully someone online. Teaching empathy and respect for others are important strategies in dealing with cyberbullying.
Respect the property of others
Just as teaching students the negative impact of stealing and vandalizing is important, students need to understand there are consequences for using digital resources that do not belong to them. Respecting others’ digital property means not posting pictures or information about others without their permission and citing sources correctly when using them for school work and other projects.
Today’s students have been brought into a world with instant access to information and powerful communication tools. However, they aren’t born with the skills they need to interact with this world in a safe and ethical way. Helping students develop the higher order thinking skills they need to become good digital citizens will serve them in many other aspects of their lives and prepare them for their future in the classroom and the life beyond.
If you would like to learn more about our Online Safety curriculum to help you take on challenging online safety topics, click here.