The post Digital Citizenship for Students by (Bec Spink) @MissB6_2 asks two important questions that I’d like to reflect upon:
What are the challenges of introducing digital citizenship to young people (students)?
How can digital citizenship awareness be supported by current research? Which research is the most useful to a digital learning environment?
In this post, Bec first raises the issues of a digital footprint and Internet safety. She is correct in saying that safety is paramount and it is important for students to understand this, however, it is equally important to focus on building a positive digital footprint and give students strategies for doing this. Even young students can discuss how our reputations can be damaged by poor etiquette and silly behaviour in public and brainstorm ideas for avoiding this mistake in both the physical and digital worlds. Bec focuses on the dangers of being online. By contrast, others such as Brett Lee, cyber safety expert, tell us that the Internet is “a great and safe world, it’s how people use it that creates issues” (2012). In his guide for parents, he stresses that children need life skills and these include digital skills (2012). Furthermore, digital citizenship encompasses so much more than Internet safety as outlined in the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship and placing too much focus on safety limits the students’ learning and development in these other areas.
The video from Common Sense media provides excellent advice for young students about strategies for making good choices online. For educators, their blog post, It’s never too early to teach kids online skills is also a useful resource.
Secondly, Bec outlines her concerns about students’ safety and protection online from her observations during a class investigation into ‘online identities’. As a mother of a thirteen year-old boy and a ten year-old girl, these observations ring true with my own experiences and observations of my children, their friends and my nieces and nephews. I regularly reflect on my children’s digital footprint and how this is evolving as they grow and as technology changes. When thinking about the importance of my daughter’s digital footprint, I concluded that it is essential we teach our children to be aware of the information they are putting out there, to control that information and to leave a footprint that is positive and safe. This goes beyond having a good online reputation. When future employers Google her name, our daughter needs them to see a clever girl who has a sophisticated presence through what she publishes online, is well connected and makes astute decisions about who she associates with. When she applies for that job, she will need an impressive digital résumé that proves her skills and qualifications. She must also possess a digital footprint that enhances rather than betrays all the hard work she has done to get to this point.
Another challenge Bec raises is parents’ awareness and understanding of digital footprints and digital citizenship. A study conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority in 2013, titled Connected parents in the cybersafety age, found that parents are very concerned about the online risks their children may be subjected to. A second key finding of the study is that young people are most likely to turn to their parents for advice about online issues. Thus, they conclude, it is essential that parents are educated about digital citizenship. As a parent and a teacher, I am very interested in this topic and recently blogged an article titled, Parenting Digital Teens: the differing priorities of kids, parents and teachers, in which I discuss these issues. The conclusion reached is that parenting adolescents has always been tricky and the digital age adds another layer of complication to this. Open dialogue and education for all the parties involved in raising connected kids is necessary and important.
A challenge that Bec does not discuss is that provided by our own peers in education. It is disappointing that there are some teachers in our schools who do not understand digital footprints and the protocols of digital citizenship. Who do not embed digital literacies into their curriculums and who put up barriers to up-skilling in this area.
The second question raised in this post is about how research supports the teaching of digital citizenship and Bec provides an excellent report, Digital Citizens Guide – community and stakeholder research, as a useful resource. Although it is now three years old, another piece of research that provides interesting insight into the teaching of digital citizenship is the 2011 study by Gfk bluemoon for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) entitled, Like, post, share: Young Australians’ experience of social media. Finally, indicators for teaching digital citizenship can also be found in the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. In particular, the Learning Continuum in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) general capability provides explicit examples of how this should be taught across year levels.
Bec concludes her article by identifying the three principals three principals that responsible digital citizens should Practise:
Know your online world
I agree Bec, and I believe these are principals we should live by in life, both online and off.
Geralt, Blog Blogging Leave Share With Communication, CC0
ACARA. (2014). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/information-and-communication-technology-capability/introduction/introduction
ACMA. (2011). Like, post, share: Young Australians’ experience of social media (Rep.). Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/About%20Cybersmart/Research/~/media/Cybersmart/About%20Cybersmart/Documents/GfK%20Blue%20Moon%20Qualitative%20Like%20Post%20Share%20%20final%20PDF.pdf
ACMA. (2013). Digital citzens guide (pp. 1-5, Rep.). Canberra, ACT: Australian Government.
ACMA. (2014). Connected parents in the cybersafety age, June 2013 snapshot (pp. 1-28, Rep.). Canberra, ACT: Australian Government.
Common Sense Media. (2013, September 30). It’s never too early to teach kids online skills [Web log post]. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/its-never-too-early-to-teach-kids-online-skills
Common Sense Media. (2013, September 24). Pause & Think Online. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgbZAWnOWOo
Lee, B. (2012). Parents’ guide to Internet use. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.iness.com.au/sites/default/files/Parents%27%20Guide%20to%20Internet%20Use-Iness-Netbox%20Blue-v1.0.pdf
Lee, B. (n.d.). Internet education and safety services. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.iness.com.au/
Ribble, M. (2014). Nine Elements. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html
Spinks, B. (2014, March 22). Digital citizenship for students [Web log post]. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/becspink/2014/03/22/digital-citizenship-for-students/