Digital Citizenship and Us

Digging around and reading online about digital citizenship really put things into perspective for me. I think before, being someone who is active on the internet was something I took for granted. The concept of “Digital Citizenship,” was sort of there, but not really. I knew not to cyber bully, to not believe everything I read on the internet, and that there are some less-than-safe places on the internet. I’d also read about people being “hacked”: rather, they let their passwords be too simple or get in the wrong hands. But to me, those topics were only sort of relevant. As a “simple” user who goes on the computer mainly for homework and social media, what did I have to lose? Just like citizenship in the real world, I quickly learned through reading that digital citizenship also requires the efforts of everyone in the community to uphold.

One thing that is interesting (and a bit concerning) to me is the idea that the next generations will be “digital kids” who will grow up with the digital world being a given. Looking back now, I think it’s impressive that I was using powerpoint in Kindergarten. Now, there are tablets for toddlers. What was considered new and “cutting-edge” for me when I was growing up is now old news to these young children. While a lot of me sees nothing wrong with that, there are some concerns. Children have a difficult time adapting to the social norms and expectations of the real world. How will they handle both real life and digital citizenship?

I know I sound outdated right now, but hear me out: On top of the rules and etiquette that we’re all taught at a young age are now additional guidelines regarding the online world. On top of being concerned for the real life safety of children, we must now consider how being in the digital age will affect them. Furthermore, this idea of digital citizenship is only now gaining traction. Where we’ll be in ten years is quite different from where we are now. As technology becomes more engrained in our daily lives, it will become more pertinent to our etiquette and daily behavior.

My question as a future educator is this: How much of my students’ digital citizenship will fall into my hands? Will it become a permanent fixture in our curriculum to teach children to strive to make the world a better place- in the physical and online realm? Of course, this should be a goal, anyway. We can probably all recall some sort of lesson in school revolving around the dangers of cyber-bullying. But it’s become much, much more than that. How can I involve relevant lessons regarding digital activism? How can I reach out to my students and let them know that censorship is a real thing, whether we like it or not. My grade school teachers warned me about misinformation on Wikipedia, but that has nothing on the websites of today.

I guess the hardest part about reading about digital citizenship was knowing that the responsibility is there. I like to think I do my part to be a good digital citizen, but there’s more to it. As a future educator, it will be my responsibility to instill digital citizenship in my students. It will be my responsibility to guide them in a new and sometimes scary age. Most of all, it will be my responsibility to accept that I, too, have a lot of learning and adjusting to do, even when I thought I was ready. Maybe that acceptance of responsibility is part of what digital citizenship is. Everything is much more exposed, raw. Like Craig Badura posted in “The Digital Citizenship Survival Kit,” so charmingly, sometimes the reality of the digital world isn’t apparent until it’s put into tangible, cute evidence. So, as a teacher, where does my role in all of this play?


PCC: Marcie Casas


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