The World of Digital Citizenship

At first I watched “Sext up kids” and found it so interesting that I stayed up to watch “Sextortion of Amanda Todd”. I had watched the Amanda Todd story unfold on the news when it first came out, but after watching the documentary I realize there were many aspects the news did not cover. As a side note, when I viewed the two videos I paid attention to the context of positive digital citizenship, as that is what we have been discussing in class.

In both the CBC videos a common theme was that social media is pressuring children to be adults at a much younger age. Children are bombarded by media representing the way they should look and act. The first video couldn’t say it better; kids are growing up in a hyper sexualized world. They do not understand what is private and public. One’s body is private but the Internet is as public as it gets. During class I found out that many programs (Instagram) keep your photos. YIKES! I don’t have instagram anyway, but for people who do this is an interesting aspect that one should be aware of. But back to the videos…media has shaped the next generation to not know what should be kept private. Amanda Todd suffered a great deal of pain due to one person over the internet persuading her to show a racy photo. From there her positive online identity turned into one of boys trying to lure her in. She was hit with horrific comments from online, friends, and school mates that later led to her death. I was shocked that the police were not very helpful with the case when she was alive but when she passed away there were 12 police on the scene investigating what happened. I hope for her sake and others there is better investigations for others who are dealing with other stories like hers.

In relation to digital citizenship I think children in elementary school need to be equipped with the tools and understanding of how to use online websites or links. Children cannot be scared or terrified to explore online, as that way of teaching will not help them create a positive digital identity. Rather students need to be taught how to create a positive identity and what should be kept private. I realize that there are many pressures from peers, but maybe if it is taught in schools all children can be on the same page of the importance of creating an identity online that they would be proud of. I think that digital citizenship can be interwoven into any time children use technology. It should be embedded at school and at home. I also believe that in the case of both of these videos there needs to be more taught in health about the sexualization of young people.

After watching the video of Amanda Todd I went and did some research to see what teachers could do to help students establish a positive digital identity. To my surprise Alec Couros popped up on my search. To quote Alec in his article he states “we’ve seen how bullying goes bad and it can be perpetuated and become more persistent when we start to use technology in the classroom”. Students often feel like they are invisible online and can say whatever they want to say. I believe that technology can bring people closer but it can also raise up negative aspects. Online bullying has become a huge part of children’s lives and I wish that in University we had a class on how to deal with this form of bullying. Students are not just consumers of information, but rather what they do online matters. Technology is rapidly changing and it is hard to stay on top of all of the new apps and programs, which makes it difficult for teachers to know what their students are doing online. In addition to this article I also came across one that both Alec and Katia were in. The article “teaching in a digital age short on forgiveness” ties into both of the videos mentioned above. They discuss the fragility of online identity. People remember you for the one negative thing that gets put online. In the “sext up kids” video the children shared that they have been called many names due to things that other peers have seen or heard. In that same article Alec says that safety is a small chunk of total digital citizenship, but other aspects include communication, rights and responsibilities, etiquette and literacy. I agree that children need to be taught how to communicate appropriately online. If Amanda Todd might not have joined that particular chat she might not have been put in the situation she was.

In my quest to find ways to teach children positive digital identity I came across a resource that can easily be implemented into the classroom. I am sure many of you have used the acronym ‘think’ when teaching children about thinking before you speak.

T-Is it true

H-Is it helpful

I-Is it inspiring

N-Is it necessary

K-Is it kind

I found the same acronym but for thinking before you post

T- Is it true

H-Is it hurtful

I-Is it illegal

N-Is it necessary

K-Is it kind

This could be incorporated into 5 different lessons, each further exploring into one letter. I believe this idea of ‘think’ could be in any grade and a school wide initiative. Lastly, I always see on my Facebook people trying to show their class how far a picture can go on the internet. Here is an example of one picture that showed up on my Facebook today. It has over 45 000 shares!!!

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 11.53.00 AM

However, I think this picture is a little different than an average picture on Facebook. A picture that asks for people to share it and see how far it goes is different because I believe more people are likely to share that picture. I do realize a picture can end up anywhere and viewed by countless people. In relation to Amanda Todd’s experience her picture ended up everywhere. I am interested to hear your thoughts if you think an average picture would have 45 000 views and be shared all over the internet.

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