News Flash! Digital Citizenship is More Important Now Than Ever

boy on computer

Kids are at home and online more than ever, with most parents busier than ever too. I should know, I write this with a two-year old and five-year old at home. Thankfully they are not online yet, but for those of you with kids who are digitally connected, you could be in store for some troubling times ahead. Here’s why.

Tech companies would like you to believe there are safeguards in place to keep kids secure online, but that’s fairly laughable. Face it, tech companies are in business to make money. Why do you think consuming online information, participating in social media and gaming are so addictive? It’s because tech companies create platforms that make us want to be constantly glued to their services, while being barraged by advertising. Think cigarettes/ vaping…do you think Big Tobacco really cares about kids’ safety? It’s about the bottom line.

Face it, tech companies are in business to make money.

Parents, we can’t be complacent and let tech (or tobacco) companies fool us. Kids need to learn how to use technology ethically, safely and productively. They need to be taught that they’re actually paying for so-called “free” apps with their personal information. They need to know the boundaries and “rules of the road” inside the information superhighway. They need to learn empathy, and how to be an ethical digital citizen. They need to know how not to fall for or spread online misinformation. They must know how to avoid cyberbullying and sexting. They need to learn strategies to keep them and their personal information safe. And they need to learn how to be a productive digital citizen, not a mindless consumer.

Schools around the world are beginning to preempt problems that arise with their students using so much digital media. Offering a digital citizenship course at school has become very trendy. This is because no school is exempt from problems that come out of kids using media. Whether it be a 10:00 pm group chat where cyberbullying or racially insensitive comments occur. Or a student posting a video on Instagram where they’re smoking a cigarette. Or even students involved in sexting/sextortion. The list of digital activities that kids engage in today goes on and on.

Kids Need Digital Citizenship Lessons and Kids WANT Digital Citizenship Lessons

My favorite time of the day is when I get to teach Digital Citizenship, Information Literacy and Media Literacy to middle school students. My students enjoy these lessons because they get to learn and talk about something they love so much – their devices and social media. I love it because I get to witness aha moments each and every time I teach.

I love it because I get to witness aha moments each and every time I teach.