Educators, parents and community groups alike, are becoming increasingly aware of the issues associated with digital citizenship and cybersafety. Some are observing a growing chasm between what we aspire to and what our students actually do.
Online conversations within the secondary school sector have identified specific issues around cyberbullying and the effective use of Facebook. In addition, there is the challenge of resonding to inappropriate websites that are designed to ridicule and defame.
Let's consider issues related to cyberbullying, and managing inappropriate content…
Cyberbullying or digital disrespect is identified as a growing problem amongst our young people. Compounding the issue is that some young people don’t see this as anything serious as this article from ED Week highlights. There are some members of the younger generation who yearn for their 15 minutes of fame and who put themselves ‘out there’ in pursuit of recognition – even if this means beings noticed for the most adverse, undesirable behavior.
A recent thread in the VLN Groups asks, How can we help students use social media appropriately – and why? It comes down to, says Karen Melhuish, “how well students are prepared to manage themselves with responsibility and integrity online”. It’s about wanting our young people to be good digital citizens – individuals who have the moral and ethical judgment to make the right decisions when engaging online.
Some suggested strategies:
- Address school-wide policy as well as identified classroom practices to promote digital citizenship. “It's not just about having a cyber safety policy; it’s about connecting that policy with a procedure. And it’s a procedure where everyone has a role and needs to know what that role is.” http://www.core-ed.org/breakfasts/Schools-can-help-protect-children-from-cyberbullying
- Unpack what desirable actions and good digital citizenship looks like online. Relate this to the Key competencies in a digital realm.
- Discuss the issues of cyberbullying and reputation with your students. For example, is it helpful or is it hurtful? If you wouldn’t do it in real life, then why would you do it online?
- Adopt some handy tips for managing cyberbullying as a teacher.
Creating and accessing questionable material online
As our young people get older, they are considerably more influenced by their peers. This includes how they interact and communicate online. "That’s why, rather than trying to put barriers on what kids can do with technology…we need for them to discuss possible problems and consequences with their peers and with adults who will encourage positive behavior". (Power to Learn life)
Some suggested strategies:
- Explore with your students the long-term implications of a digital footprint and help them make a personal discovery about whee they are online. Check out these resources on YouTube and the Innovative Educator blog.
- Discuss the consequences for a worse-case scenario. If our young people see this merely as a joke, then it's our job to convince them otherwise. Have a look at this relevant article in ED Week and this YouTube video.
- Address the cause for the behaviour. As Michele Martin writes in, Negative Online Behavior is a Product of Culture, Not Your Social Media Tools: What I'm Learning from the Work Literacy Course the root of the problem may be more about the culture of the community and there needs to be a strategy or, “plan for dealing with this.”
- Involve everyone (students, parents, educators) from policy through to implementation. Everyone wants the best for our young people. After all, we want them to make the most of the life – in the safest possible way.
Other resources include:
- Enabling e-Learning: An online hub for e-learning, including content and community
- ICTs in English mailing list
- ICT PD digital citizenship and cybersafety resources
- ICT PD digital citizenship at home resources
- Prezi presentation for teenagers