- Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.
- Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity.
- Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning.
- Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship
For me, the most challenging aspect of the discussion about Digital Citizenship is that we are being forced to have this conversation. The creation of new technological structures creates situations that need to be addressed. For example, what if I, residing in Washington state, decide to make an online purchase from a seller located in Canada? Which country’s laws govern the transaction? What if the transaction is actually processed by an independent third-party located in Ireland, and the servers where the transaction is processed are housed in Spain? These are new issues that require a lot of analysis and will result in a fair amount of litigation and subsequent legislation.
Unfortunately, the majority of the discussions around Digital Citizenship are focused on areas of life that we, as a society, have already made decisions about. One of the most common topics that I hear discussed under the banner of Digital Citizenship is Cyberbullying. According to www.stopbullying.gov, the definition of cyber-bullying is, “bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includeds devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites” (United State Department of Health and Human Services). While bullying has been a problem for millennia, it was not until this time of widespread technological utilization that dealing with bullying has become an issue of paramount importance
I believe there are three reasons for this. The first is that the digital universe has opened up a new range of opportunities for poor behavior. More importantly, just as the internet opened up new markets for commerce and new venues for media content, it also opened up new arenas for a new breed of bullies. People who would never dream of trying to physically intimidate or harm someone now had a sword to wield. Not only was this a big sword to swing, it could also be swung from behind a rather large shield. The anonymity provided by online and social media platforms meant an opponent could be attacked from out of sight and at no risk.
The second reason is that the internet never forgets. In the old days, bullies targeted their victims in ways that were very hard to document. But in the digital arena, there is always documentation: text messages, tweets, social media postings, etc. Because bullying was hard to see in the past, we, as a society, said it was bad but mostly turned a blind eye to it. But not we are forced to face it. We can see what was said and done and there is no longer a way to deny it. Further to that point, when there is a dramatic outcome to bullying behavior, it can be broadcast widely for many people to see.
Finally, I think that deep down inside, technology dehumanizes us in ways we do not yet comprehend. Technology has allowed human experiences that might not otherwise be possible, such as visiting far-off places, either in person, or through photos and videos. However, anything that separates us from face-to-face contact increases the likelihood that we will not truly recognize the humanity of the person on the other side. I’ve seen social media exchanges that would not happen in face-to-face contact between people who see each other on a daily basis. Everything has a price and I am afraid one of the costs of technology is the loss of humanity.
My mentor teacher coaches a boys varsity sports team at the school. The team was playing today and the varsity boys were “dressed-up” for it. Several of the players had managed to get a necktie on, but many of them had done a poor job of executing the knot. I could have told them they need to work on their skills and directed them to watch a video on youTube. Instead, I took the time with each one of them to re-tie their necktie and discuss the things they need to consider when dressing-up, such as what kind of knot to use and how long the front of the tie should be.
At the end of the day, teaching is about relationships. Technology allows us the opportunity to do and experience things that would not be possible otherwise. It is important for us to remember not to put artificial barriers between us and our students just because we have a shiny new tool to use.
United State Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). What is Cyberbullying? Retrieved March 17, 2017, from stopbullying.gov: www.stopbullying.gov