Social Media Tweenies and digital citizenship

“Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behaviour.” NETS.S

According to NETS this is what students need to do in order to become digital citizens. They have also produced a four stage plan for teaching digital citizenship:

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From http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/uploads/LL2008DCArt.pdf

As teachers we should be teaching:

  1. Awareness- This is where students have a knowledge of technology and also know what is appropriate behaviour and what is inappropriate behaviour when using technology.
  2. Guided practice:  This is giving students the opportunities to use different technologies. Also the opportunity to take risks in a safe environment.
  3. Modelling and demonstration: Teachers should  be aware of correct practices and model these for students. Teachers must be digital citizens themselves.
  4. Feedback and analysis:  There should be opportunities for discussion with students to look at how they are using technology appropriately and to help them be aware of ways of improving their practice.

So there is quite a lot of responsibility here for the teachers. They should be teaching digital citizenship and giving the students a lot of time to develop their skills, have time to take risks ( and possibly make mistakes in a safe environment)  and to reflect on their practice.

But is this really happening in schools? How necessary is it?

I read the article What are teens doing online? and noticed that according to their data collection 

 37% of teens own smartphones

91% post photos of themselves on social media,

24% post videos.

Only 60% have their settings set to private

These are figures for teenagers. The students in my class are only 10 and 11 years old. So the figures for them would be lower presumably and so less to worry about. But looking around the students in my international school class, counting the Apple watches on display, the MacBook Air’s that many of them bring to school and knowing that out in their school bags are several iPhone 6’s I have to ask myself how protected are they. 

I decided to do my own survey and discovered that:

67% of my students own a smartphone (20% also have Apple watches)

47% post photos of themselves on social media,

40% post videos.

Only 43% say they have their settings set to private

Although these children are under 13 many of them are using social media regularly; including What’s App, Instagram, Facebook, Viber, Twitter and Youtube.

It seems to me that not only is it important that we are teaching Digital Citizenship skills but that also we may need to go further than the existing programmes that are available online for students their age. We also need to make sure that the parents are on board as well, as they are the ones who realistically set the limits for what their children are allowed to do online.

Quite a few of my students understood the importance of privacy settings, especially when it comes to giving out email addresses, phone numbers etc. Several of them said they had good privacy settings on social media but a quick check on FB clearly showed that was not the case for all of them. 

It is vital that we teach the students how to be safe and responsible on line. There are plenty of good resources out there that will help us to do that. This website gdst has a lot of good videos that deal with digital footprint, cyber bullying, staying safe and secure etc. Here is an example of one of their videos. This one is looking at Security and privacy

They also have videos and advice for parents which as I noted before I believe is vital if our students are to really become digital citizens. We obviously can’t tell parents what to do but we can help them be aware of what they can do to help their children be safe and responsible on line.  I thoroughly enjoyed looking at Janell Burley Hoffman’s website and fully intend to share this with the parents of my class. Her suggestions for iRules may be helpful to some of my parents who are unsure of what to do to support their child in this area.

As a school I think we need to address digital citizenship and really build it in to our curriculum. We need to be building these lessons into our curriculum and having these conversations as a staff and with parents in order to help our students be become digital citizens of the future.