By Laurie Davis
Technology has become a necessary part of our lives. We find ourselves scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, adding to our story and sharing information with the world. We use smart devices throughout the day for both work and personal things, and we search for information and find it within seconds. However, this new technology comes without a set of instructions or etiquette. How do we teach our students to be safe online? How do we talk to them about sensitive issues and how do we transition their love of online media into skills for the future?
Today’s students are exposed to more digital technology than we ever could have predicted. They have access to information on every known topic and they have the means to create their own digital content from their smart devices. Kids are considered “digital natives” which means they have always had access to technology. They learned at an early age how to open websites and play games and we did not have to spend time teaching them. We have forgotten that our kids know how to work technology, but they do not immediately understand how to be safe and secure online. We embrace technology and encourage our students to learn in new ways, but we also want to teach our students how to interact safely online.
For years, we have incorporated good citizenship training in our classrooms. We teach students how to open doors, say “please” and “thank you” and how to respect others. It is now time to take these lessons and extend them into the technological world. Digital citizenship is a concept that teaches our students how to use technology appropriately; similar to teaching kids to be good citizens. Digital citizenship includes learning to navigate and stay safe on the internet as well as how to present themselves online. It is about teaching our students to collaborate and create a culture of responsibility, and it is a way to prepare our students for the digital culture that lies ahead of them. Our students must learn how to become good digital citizens: those who understand the need for safe digital practices, but also understand their impact on creating a safe digital world.
In preparing for our students’ futures, Frenship ISD is excited to announce a digital citizenship program that will help our students navigate the digital landscape. This program will assist our students in acquiring future-ready skills as well as better equip our teachers and parents for digital interactions. Each month, FISD will dedicate classroom time to digital citizenship instruction. Our campus media specialists have created digital citizenship lessons for every grade level that address the needs of each age group as well as the needs of parents and teachers. Teachers will use lessons and activities to discuss issues like cyberbullying and staying safe online. Each month, information will be sent home to parents via Tuesday folders and Skyward messages; it will also be posted on the Frenship webpage. This will include tips for parents about talking to students as well as information about the upcoming digital citizenship topic students will
This year, FISD will explore nine topics of digital citizenship and instruct students on the following:
- Cyberbullying and Digital Drama
Students learn how their actions online can hurt others around them. They learn to stand up for what is right and build positive online interactions.
- Internet Safety
Students learn how to use the Internet safely and how to handle scary or dangerous situations.
- Digital Media
Students learn about their responsibilities while online.
- Self-Image and Identity
Students learn about how they can help others be good digital citizens. They learn the risks of presenting themselves differently online than offline.
- Creative Credit and Copyright
Students learn about plagiarism, piracy, copyright and fair use. They learn to share information correctly.
- Information Literacy
Students learn to find, evaluate and use online information effectively.
- Relationships and Communication
Students think about their own online interactions and learn to create positive online communities.
- Privacy and Security
Students learn about creating secure passwords and keeping private information offline.
- Digital Footprint and Reputation
Students learn to protect their identities and the identities of those around them.
When we look at the future, we know that smart devices and technology will be a part of it. Our kids need help learning how to find information, evaluate it for truth and share it responsibly. They need to know how to share information while still showing respect. Most of all, they need to know that they can positively impact the world around them through the digital sphere.