Posted by: Ed Brazee | March 19, 2013

Simplifying digital citizenship?

IMG_1462If someone advises you to be careful online, what exactly does that mean? When should children start using their real names online…and why? When we advise our children or students not to put anything online they wouldn’t want their grandmother to see or hear, what does that mean?

Sometimes advice, any advice, is simply too philosophical…too esoteric…too general to have any practical application. For example, what do kids hear when we admonish them to be good, or safe, or responsible online?  Does that translate into—my parents don’t know what I am doing so I can do what I’ve always done online. Or, I’m not using my real name, so what does it matter if I say some bad things about that kid I don’t like anyway. Or, it’s the Internet, how can I get in trouble, I’m just having some fun.

Is this why talking about digital citizenship responsibilities is often ignored by both teens and adults. To cut through any confusion, here are five specific guidelines that cover a wide swath across digital citizenship issues and are as appropriate for 16-year-olds as they are for 60-year-olds. (And don’t forget to click on the links for more information about each guideline.)

1. Do not talk or text on your phone while driving. Not ever. I mean that exactly, not ever! If you are tempted to look at your phone when it rings or vibrates, lock it in the glove box before you start the engine. (If you are too young to drive, don’t text while riding your bike or walking.)

2. Use technology for good to make a contribution to your local community, state, or beyond. Help someone at the local senior center learn to use her phone, computer, or tablet. Students, volunteer to help Girl Scouts earn their technology proficiency badges. Other ways to use your technology and contribute at the same time—become a water quality volunteer for a stream or lake; participate in a citizen science project, or; see how people help others around the world.

3. Reduce your time on Facebook or texting by 20 minutes everyday. Use that time to discover other ways to learn online: Read the news, introduce yourself to a new book or magazine, learn to play an instrument, master a new dance move, or read about the amazing contributions that other teens are adding to their communities and world. Discover tutorials! Google it…and you will find whatever you are looking for.

4. Get exercise and some fresh air. Stow your computer or phone and take yourself for a walk, ride your bicycle, shoot some baskets, or play Frisbee with a friend. Relax and enjoy while forgetting about texts, tweets, Facebook, and the rest.

5. When preparing to text or post a comment about others that is not complimentary think about how you would feel if someone posted the same about you. Hit delete…and see #4 above. (Ok, this is obviously the source of most online disputes, arguments, hurt feelings, and worse. We’ll talk about this from multiple viewpoints in upcoming blogs.)

Are these ideas specific enough? Useful? Which one will you start with?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: