According to digiteen.wikispaces.com “Digital citizenship can be described as knowing how to behave appropriately and responsibly with regard to technology use”. This is a broad definition and can be applied to all areas of online presence and identity with students. Digital citizenship must be taught so students understand what is expected from them as it relates to their use of technology. Digital presence is so prevalent in American society that schools must get a handle and teach appropriate behaviors as soon as students start to use technology and personal devices, this can be as soon as Kindergarten. Common Sense Media has a scope and sequence that is a fantastic way to incorporate these ideas into the school setting (http://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/scope-and-sequence) ideas start basic like how to protect oneself online and then go into more advance topics like Cyberbullying, Broadcasting and Internet Privacy.
Like all things a student is not greater than his master or teacher. Teachers truly teach 8 hours a day because they are impacting their students the entire time. According to the NETS*T standards a teacher should “Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility” which means that “Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices” (http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/nets-t-standards.pdf?sfvrsn=2). Teachers must teach digital citizenship because they are informing students what is appropriate when using technology. No student will learn proposition A when the teacher by his actions dismisses proposition A. On a biblical note it is essential to teach students about possible pitfalls and dangers. The book of Proverbs constantly talks about gaining wisdom and paying attention to instruction, parents and educators must teach appropriate use.
Families need to get involved by being literate in technology and learning what media their family is consuming. Many parents would be shocked to know what type of websites their children visit on a daily basis. Common Sense Media recently launched a program to help parents teach children how to be critical consumers of media. The Parent Media Education Program is set to help students and parents “sift” through the information that they use. (http://www.commonsensemedia.org/about-us/news/press-releases/common-sense-media-launches-parent-media-education-program). Parents should always be involved in their child’s online presence. It isn’t easy to break down “independent” walls when it comes to teenagers. It is clear that this directive is an imperative. Many teens do not understand the danger of inappropriate online use and many in their naiveté do irresponsible things that permanently haunt them. Some guidelines are as follows:
1.)Discover the Link - do some research and soul-searching to find what services your child is linked into - and why. For instance, why does your 14 year old daughter HAVE to be online and connected to Facebook for hours a day? Answering this questions will probably help your relationship grow!
2.)Inform yourself on the laws concerning digital citizenship and the law - Many things that you feel are appropriate might actually be illegal to state and federal authorities. http://www.connectsafely.org/ is a good place to start to find general categories and ask questions. Talk with your kids about how the Lord would have them behave in public and private. Relate this to your experiences and impart knowledge.
3.)Realize your digital dependence - many consumers of digital media, whether social or otherwise don’t realize the state of constant dependence they are in. According to http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/top-10-signs-of-cell-phone-addiction/ some signs of cell phone addiction are depression when lost, dependence on alarms, obsession with your phone, cutting back on basic necessities and so on. One thing is certain - parents and students do need to unplug and not base their existence solely on digital platforms.
Ultimately Digital Citizenship is no different than citizenship anywhere else. As Christians we believe the Lord is sovereign and present everywhere and he wants our actions to reflect His kingdom. In what ways do you talk with your student about how they are to act in God's Kingdom? I pray your mindset would be that of Jesus in Matthew 6.
Matthew 6 - "Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven"