A few weeks ago, in my 6th grade Cyber Civics class, students were asked to design positive online communities - either a website or an app (on paper) - where the principles of citizenship I taught them a few weeks ago (courage, honesty, compassion, respect, and responsibility) could thrive. The goal of this lesson is to help my students further understand digital citizenship and to envision and create the kinds of online communities they would be proud to be part of.
I am always impressed by the wonderful ideas my students come up with! Their online community guidelines were incredibly strict when it came to dealing with negative or hurtful behavior. In the example below a student came up with the idea for a site called MyArt where users could post and share their comics and creations. She instructs site visitors to "keep their berets on" by being supportive and kind. If anyone is unkind in either the content of their art or comments on others' art they become subject to her beret-themed conduct code:
Scuffed Beret: Banned for 12 hours.
Old Beret: Banned for 24 hours.
Lost Beret: Last chance, banned forever!
Seeing my Cyber Civics students in action gives me great hope for the next generation of online citizens. With good education, I think they will create thoughtful, inclusive, and just online places, not out of fear, but out of empathy, kindness, and connection.
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