Many schools are trying to get to a 1-to-1 ratio for technology. This has so many positive aspects as students will continually be faced with new technology throughout their lives. The technology skills these students learn now will help them in the future both personally and professionally. Suddenly, plopping a laptop into each student’s hands without any instruction or training is somewhat like giving them a new car, but no driving lessons.
Educating students on digital citizenship is essential. We’ve already seen too many incidents reported in newspapers that include sexting and electronic bullying. Technology seems to give people a feeling of empowerment. Often things are said online that the person wouldn’t say to the person’s face.
This makes teaching digital citizenship not only essential, but an immediate concern. This past year, I taught digital citizenship to my second grade class. They were taught what the internet was and how to do searches on the internet. They were also taught that everything put on the internet is always there no matter if it is deleted. They seemed to get the basic understanding of this concept. We utilized the curriculum provided by Common Sense Media. The curriculum is very straight forward and easy to use.
This year, as I transition to middle school teaching, I have a concern with online bullying and our digital citizenship practices as a school. If digital citizenship isn’t taught as a separate class, it needs to be touched upon in each class that computers are used in. I loved the ideas presented in The Digital Citizenship Survival Kit. The kit is just the type of visual I can use at the beginning of the school year to help students recognize some of the things they need to be cautious about online. It’s important to teach students what is and what is not appropriate online. It’s also important to teach students that there can be long-term implications to what they post online which could impact future relationships or future employment.
While technology is definitely a part of our present and our future, we need to teach appropriate online behavior. It’s important for schools to have a formal policy related to computers and other technology. In addition, it is important to have an appropriate, structured digital literacy and citizenship program that is taught in each grade level throughout the school. By starting digital literacy and citizenship programs earlier in schools, we can deter some of the bad behavior we see in middle and high schools.