Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Digital Citizenship

Yesterday was Texas Digital Citizenship Day. We celebrated by having digital citizenship lessons.

I thought that the lessons were wonderful. They were from Common Sense Media, a great website not just for educators, but for families too. The site reviews games, books, apps and more so that you can make informed decisions without having to read every book, watch every movie, etc. I also like the name, Common Sense Media, because really, keeping our kids safe from the evils of society is a game of common sense isn't it? Common sense can be relative though...

I loved the lessons that I taught yesterday. You can access the K-2 lesson here and the 3-5 lesson here, and the entire scope and sequence here. In fact, I love the lessons so much that I proposed to my principal that I teach monthly digital citizenship classes next year using these lessons.

Photo from
The lessons were fun and interactive, and I love being with the kids, so I had a fun day. There were a couple of reflection points that I wanted to share. The biggest eye-opener with the K-2 crowd came when I asked, "Is the Internet real life?" I bet you can guess what the overwhelming answer was... Our kids are on the computer at early, early ages. The Peach is addicted to YouTube right now--and she can certainly turn off a video she doesn't like, so I bet it won't be long until she can navigate to a new video. She's almost 2 by the way. Kids at my school are on computers, iPods, iPads, netbooks, etc and they think that what they are doing isn't real life. They haven't made the connection that they are telling the computer what to do, and so they are in control. We need to start instilling in them that just like in "real life" their actions online have consequences. I know that the concept of the Internet is hard for them to grasp, I barely grasp it, but we can work on teaching them at their level. The Golden Rule will always be the Golden Rule.

Photo from
Now for the 3-5 revelation--most of those kids are flying through social media blindly. We recently received a forwarded email from a mom who had been to a seminar about the dangers of social media. I don't personally believe in scare tactics, but this mom came out of the seminar with her eyes wide open. She learned that social media isn't private, specifically Instagram. If you didn't already know, let me tell you again, SOCIAL MEDIA ISN'T PRIVATE. I don't care how many boxes you check, or sites you opt of, if you are on the Internet someone can find you. That means if your kids are on the Internet, someone can find them. Does that scare me? Not really, because I try to be pragmatic. If I'm not on the Internet and someone wants to find me, they still will--luckily I don't have anything to offer, so people aren't looking for me. And I plan to teach my daughters to use social media respectfully. Just like I teach them to deal with REAL PEOPLE respectfully, because online people are real people. *see reflection above* When I asked the third and fourth graders which of them had an Instagram account, I'd say 1/3 to 1/2 raised their hands. When I asked how many kids sat down with mom or dad and talked about how to use Instagram safely, 2 kids raised their hands. Now, that sounds judgmental, but I'm not judging. I'm sure many parents have talked to their kids about using Instagram, but just haven't had a sit down discussion about it. I'm thinking that we should though. We should sit down and write rules and hang those rules up in a high traffic area with one consequence--you break the rule, you lose the service. On top of that, I don't believe in kid privacy. I will read texts, e-mails, check photo streams. I'm a mean mom and teacher. I believe in letting kids use it all, just with parameters.

 Photo from Market One Communication
And there ends my soapbox. Be safe out there digital friends!

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