More Important Than Waiting 30 Minutes to Swim After You Eat

This morning I read a tweet that caught my attention about teaching your kids the importance of online reputation. I immediately responded & RT’ed because I liked the fact it was written more toward parents and not teachers. Most of the time when I read an article on teaching digital citizenship it focuses on teacher teaching it. I started wondering how many parents take the time to teach these skills to their kids. My guess is just a few. Most adults aren’t the most savvy when it comes to digital citizenship – think of your high school friends on Facebook, see what I mean.

As teachers this so often falls in our lap. We need to be aware no one may have ever brought this up to your students. Their whole lives they’ve been told not to cross street without looking both ways, don’t talk to strangers, and wait 30 minutes after they eat to swim but no one may have told them what is posted on the Internet has a long shelf life or talking to strangers online could be dangerous. Crazy the 30 min before swimming rule is not even real, but every kid knows it yet they are clueless about what is dangerous (or dumb) to put on a Facebook profile. If they have never been told this, how do they know? Are we waiting for them to find out on their own? We don’t let them figure out the dangers of crossing a street without looking both ways, we tell them, we show them, we have discussions with them. Same thing needs to happen here.

Last month I went to a session at the state tech conference about using web tools in middle school science. The teacher leading the session would show a tool & what her students created with the tool then without fail say “well I’ve never used it and I don’t know how to but I tell the students about it and let them figure it out.” Now I could probably write 10 blog post on this statement, I was cringing. But what really got me is she was sending her students to the computers without even knowing what the program does, how safe it was, etc. The way she kept saying that she left all the computer stuff up to them because they know more was like nails on a chalkboard.

They don’t know more (I hope). Yes, at times they are more familiar with using computers but we know more about safety and common sense than kids. We can’t just turn them loose and never stop and have conversations about safety. It’s too important to ignore. It needs to be a collaborative effort between home at school but we cannot assume the other is doing their job. We all need to. Maybe, just maybe, the more our students learn to be good digital citizens schools will not think they need to block everything. Maybe.

Our world has changed, we are now in the 21st century so we need to change our priorities. Teaching students to have a good reputation online and stay safe must be a priority. The web needs to be part of of our everyday classroom, and students should be safe while they are there.

If you are looking for lessons on digital citizenship Common Sense Media is a fantastic place to start.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Aviva (@avivaloca) says:

    Amanda, I love this post of yours, and I think you make a really good point. Students need to be taught how to be safe online (and why to bother), and this should be a shared responsibility between home and school.

    Just the other day, I was talking to some of my middle school summer school students about Facebook. They asked me if I have a Facebook account, and I said that I don’t. I mentioned to them the importance of thinking about what they share here. They told me, “Well we can always just delete the account.” I mentioned that what’s on the web, remains on the web, and that it’s often stored on a server somewhere. I shared with these students that employers sometimes look at Facebook accounts before making hiring decisions. I told them this wasn’t a reason not to have an account, but it was a reason to think about what they post. I couldn’t believe how many students were sharing very personal information online.

    We have had numerous discussions now, and even activities, about online safety, and it’s great to hear the students already reminding their peers about what they should and shouldn’t share. It’s worth taking the time to teach this!


  2. Philip Cummngs says:

    I appreciate this post. My personal experience is that my students aren’t as tech savvy as my colleague and I often think they are. And while I would encourage my students to tinker and play in order to figure out a tool, I think it is vital that we embed ethical citizenship conversations into all of our teaching and learning. You are right. They won’t figure that out on their own. Parents and teachers need to partner together to help students understand how to properly engage in the world around them, both online and off.

    1. amandacdykes says:

      Thank y’all for the comments. I’m glad others think the same way. I often see so many colleagues never use tech except taking them to computer lab and set them loose to play games. Scares me. And if the teachers saw what I delete off the computers once they leave they may realize that it’s not working.

      We so often hear arguments for and against using tech in the classroom. Teaching safety and modeling correct use is reason enough. It’s too important.

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