Mind Your Digital Manners!

This weekend my husband and I celebrated our anniversary at this fancy-schmancy restaurant. (We were WAY out of our element!) I couldn’t help but notice this family that came and sat next to us after our appetizers arrived. They came with their 2 young children. In 20 minutes, not one word was exchanged between any of them (except for the 1-year-old who kept shouting at his dad). Mom and dad sat across the table from each other texting away.

Two thoughts came to my mind as I sat there watching them:1) Mind your manners! It’s a shame these days how people are prioritizing digital conversations when a face-to-face human contact conversation is sitting right in front of them!  2) Those young kids are growing up thinking that is okay! Then, the cycle just repeats itself and those kids end up doing the same thing as they age.

Some rights reserved by Christoph Sullivan

So how do we break the cycle?

By teaching digital etiquette.

Just as we teach our kids (or students) to say please and thank you and not to run in the hallways, we must also educate them so they know what is appropriate and what is not in the digital world.

Our school is going 1:1 in the high school next year. I have heard some of the parent community rumbling about how now that it’s going 1:1 the kids will be living and breathing their computer and lose touch with human contact and conversation.

Now, of course the students will not be ONLY working on their computers in each class. Teachers are bright; teachers will still have the kids discussing and analyzing in small and large groups. HOWEVER, it is imperative that schools place VALUE on educating students on etiquette and equipping them with digital citizenship skills. In order to do this, time and effort must be spent. Some things must come off the plates of teachers in order to do this. But, in my opinion, it must happen if we really want to live up to our school vision of creating effective 21st century learners.

Some rights reserved by Benson Kua

5 thoughts on “Mind Your Digital Manners!

  1. Hi Emily, Thanks for you article. It had me agreeing with you and cringeing with embarrassment all at the same time.
    My school is a 1-1 laptop school and being into tech myself, I like the idea of having all the students with access to their laptops. I have only taught with laptops in my Health class, and it did give me a way to teach using computer based programs and offer digital worksheets etc to them. Digital presentations and documents has made the students; work so much more presentable. That’s a given, that’s most of the reason schools are getting them. What was frustrating as a teacher though, was that at the time there was not a lot of PD training given to me before the 1-1 initiative was implemented. This is possibly because not many people had much experience teaching like this and people were hoping we would learn as we went a long. I think that’s all very well for those of us who can use computers and adapt to teaching with them. There are plenty of teachers out there though who have no idea how to teach with laptops, and more importantly do not understand how the dynamics of the classroom changes.
    Our school has DYKNOW (link to dyknow.com) on the teachers’ computers so we can monitor what our students are looking at on their screens and also gives another teaching tool to ensure all students are actively engaged. Anyway, PD for teachers on classroom management in a 1-1 program is essential. Instant messaging, net-surfing, and doing other homework runs rampant if there are not some strict controls in place.
    On a personal level, I cringed because I am totally guilty of giving my 2 young kids our phones or Ipods to play on in restaurants. Both my husband and I honestly try not to, but sometimes it’s just easier than dealing with the kid on the verge of a meltdown.
    Digital manners is a must to focus on in today’s society. Thanks for reminding me!

    • Michelle, I am 100% guilty as well! When my husband and I are going to a restaurant with the kids (ages 2 and 5) or out somewhere and just need a minute to ourselves, we hand out the iPads (yes, PLURAL!!)! But I do think it’s a bit different. At least we, the adults, were in conversation. So don’t beat yourself up too much:)

  2. My wife and I have made many similar observations of people here in Seoul. Often crowded subway cars are silent because everyone is plugged into some sort of device. It makes me think twice about the amount of technology I allow my children to have(We’re one of the last hold-outs on cell phones. We have them but our teenage kids do not-they get one of ours when they go out). My fear is that education won’t be enough when it comes to tech etiquette. The lure of the easy distraction will take the place of the sometimes awkward, sometimes difficult conversation. Here’s to hoping education wins.

  3. Hi Emily, opening a can of worms? All parents take out ipods and ipads when kids are on the verge of melt downs – it’s the perfect distraction. My daughter the other day was crying because she was in trouble and instantly asked for the ipod. That’s pushing it, right. It is all about etiquette. And we as parents should keep setting the right examples. We need to find a balance. It’s okay to play on the ipod/ipad once in a while but there needs to be a limit. And I think this is what most parents want. We have digital natives running on the loose but we want them to be able to have a conversation and to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Isn’t it the same in schools? Isn’t this what teachers want? What education wants?
    But, in order to do so, we need to think about where teaching digital etiquette fits into our current curriculum. I believe we would have to drop something else in order to give it a fair place within education. Something will have to give.
    I like what Michelle mentioned about having DYKNOW (link to dyknow.com) on the teachers’ computers. Something I’d like to bring up at our school meetings.

  4. Thanks for that blog post, Emily. I see the same thing all the time here in Singapore on the MRT or on the bus on my way to work. I think it was you the other night during our BigMarker chat who mentioned the Thai television commercial Disconnect to Reconnect. That was such a beautiful commercial and really made me reflect about myself and the number of times I’ve checked my email at the dinner table and my husband has given me a “look”. I agree with you wholeheartedly about teaching our students to place value on etiquette when it comes to using digital devices. Being a “21st Century Learner” means so much more than just teaching kids how to use devices – we also need to teach them balance and when and how to disconnect, being good role models of this ourselves!

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