In a recent presentation I did, I spoke about digital citizenship to parents, teachers, and administrators alike. In it, I highlighted several articles and videos; everything from a discussion by administrators about what 21st Century Skills are and why they’re important, to the internet myth about 1 in every 5 students being sexually solicited via social media by predators. These are important topics to discuss when it relates to teaching our youth about Digital Citizenship, as I believe all schools should. Everyone should teach our youth about digital citizenship, and it should be taught to them as soon as they have the capacity to interface with the digital world. As soon as they understand how to create and contribute to the online community, they should be informed about the implications of those actions and guided through the mess.
I can’t remember when my parents gave me the talk about my digital footprint – primarily because it didn’t happen! In school, I remember going through programs and computer games teaching me where to place my fingers on the keyboard, but never do I remember a lesson on where to put my thoughts on the internet – or whether or not I should. By the time a good friend tipped me off about “Googling” myself, my digital dossier was already well underway, and littered with things I didn’t even know were out there about me.
I believe the discussion should start early. Exactly how early I don’t quite know, although based on this articulation by a third grader, I would say that it should probably happen by then, if not sooner. By middle school, students should be knowledgeable about how to create and contribute to the online community and should be discussing the implications of their actions. Students need to understand the future they are creating in the present. By high school, students should be collaborating and forming their digital identities with great intentionality, both in terms of their own presence as well as their greater cultural and global community through technology.