Digital Citizenship - Family Tip Sheets
submitted by Shawn Murphy, Parent Involvement Assistant / Enlace de Padres
What’s the Issue?
We may think of our kids’ online, mobile, and technological activities as “digital life,” but to them, it’s just part of life. Their world is as much about creating media as it is about consuming it. Media devices have converged and become extremely powerful and portable. Phones aren’t simply for phone calls anymore but for listening to music, sending texts, filming videos, snapping and sharing photos, and accessing the Internet. Our kids use their computers to do their homework, but they also use them to socialize, stream video, and create movies and songs. And they can connect and communicate 24/7 from just about any location.
Why Does It Matter?
We want our kids to make good decisions so they can take advantage of the powerful technology that fills their lives. In order to make good choices, kids must know how the digital world works. The very nature of the constantly connected culture means kids must understand the concept of privacy, so that what they post and create won’t hurt or embarrass them at some point in the future. The fact that much of digital communication is anonymous means that consequences that might seem obvious in face to face interactions may not be as clear online. Much of the task of childhood and adolescence involves figuring out who you are. But in digital life, anything said or posted can live on indefinitely and create undesired consequences. The stakes are high because our kids’ technological abilities can be greater than their maturity and judgment. Having unrestricted access to information and people can result in gaining a wealth of information and experiences. But it can also mean accessing inappropriate contact and content. The difference between a great experience and an iffy one lies in the decisions kids make. Just as kids learn to eat properly, swim safely, or drive a car carefully, they need to know how to live in the digital world responsibly and respectfully. Their ultimate success depends on their abilities to use digital media to create, collaborate, and communicate well with others. Those who master these skills in using digital tools will be able to harness the digital world’s awesome power.
What’s the Issue?
Our teens live in a culture of sharing that has forever changed the concept of privacy. In a world where everyone is connected and anything created online can be copied, pasted, and sent to thousands of people in a heartbeat, privacy starts to mean something different than simply guarding personal or private information. Each time your teen fills out a profile, comments on something, posts a video, or sends a picture of themselves to friends, they potentially broadcast themselves to the world.
Why Does It Matter?
Digital life is both public and permanent. Everything our teens do online creates digital footprints that migrate and persist. Something that happens on the spur of the moment – a funny picture, an angry post – can resurface years later. If teens aren’t careful, their reputations can be harmed. Your teen may think he or she just sent something to a friend, but that friend can send it to a friend’s friend, who can send it to their friends’ friends, and so on. That’s how secrets become headlines, and how false information spreads fast and furiously. The stakes only increase when we remember that all of this takes place in front of a huge, invisible audience. Teens’ deepest secrets can be shared with thousands of people they’ve never even met.
What Families Can Do
Do you really want everyone to know that about you? Think about what parents of your friends might think of you if they saw that. How do you think that person would feel if he/she later saw it someday?