Week 5 Elements of Digital Citizenship

How can I improve my approach to Digital Citizenship with my kids? I want my children to be knowledgeable about the internet and not hide from it in fear nor navigate it blindly. But having said that, it’s embarrassing how little I have actually worked with them on this. Fortunately, they are in a very technologically progressive school district and have learned some safety aspects of navigating the web. It is up to me to fill in the blanks, using Mike Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship as a guide.

My sequential brain soaked up the break down of the elements into stepping stones of learning. We build on prior knowledge as is age appropriate and repeat, repeat, repeat. Just as we continuously discuss with our children appropriate actions, safety concerns, and responsibilities of being a good citizen in real life, so should we when discussing citizenship in the digital world. This will not be a one time lesson, but continuous lessons evolving as they age and repeated until they become second nature. The lessons will provide kids with opportunities to learn digital citizenship skills and just as importantly, opportunities to show their understanding and learning of the skills. Ribble likened the acquiring of Digital Citizenship skills to Driver’s Education stating kids “have to know the rules of the road”, be it the internet highway or real city streets, before we turn them loose. The acquisition for either set of rules begins at a young age with basic, age appropriate lessons that continuously build on one another. For Driver’s Ed even kindergartens can grasp stop signs and seat belt safety, and upper elementary kids understand the basics of operating a car, rules and infractions, and the need for laws. All of this is learned before they even get behind the wheel! In high school they have their first opportunity to drive a car but not without supervision, and practice and testing to ensure their understanding. Finally, they are set free to navigate the roads on their own, learning from experience as they go and still being kept in check by societal and traffic laws. And so this is how I will approach digital citizenship with my children. They will start with learning digital etiquette, understanding the different digital communication options, and digital rights & responsibilities all within a protected environment. We will continue up the ladder of learning with the awareness of everyone who has access to the internet therefore restricting their own, developing searching and processing skills, and identifying larger safety and security issues. Then moving on to crimes & laws, buying & selling online, and physical & psychological well-being of sitting in front of a screen for endless amounts of time. As I look at this plan I realize they have been exposed to some of these elements already just by being around parents who are connected to the digital world and aware of the bad that goes with the good. They have heard about physical & psychological issues of endless gaming, have started to dabble in email and texting with their teachers and parents, have done some searching but not so much processing, and have some idea of who is out there. But none of it is second nature. And so we will continue on, using Ribble’s REPs, practicing in safe environments, and exploring with supervision until they have proven themselves ready to go it alone.

It is time. My kids are at the prime age to begin learning the elements of digital citizenship. And now I have a starting point and road map laid out before me. The question then becomes how do I put it into action with Minecraft, Netflix, and Clash of Clans demanding all their screen time? Sigh.

Northshore School District. 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from http://webold.nsd.org/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=82446&linkid=nav-menu-container-4-180331

Ribble, M. 2011. Digital Citizenship in Schools. Eugene, OR: ISTE.

Week 4 Digital Footprints

Awareness. Everyone needs to be aware of their digital footprint and its potential audiences. Ideally we will leave well-rounded, truthful presentations of who we are. To help our students in this endeavor, we need to actively engage them in the conversations and activities that could help them generate an honest, positive digital footprint.

Through our weekly discussion I found my opinion flip flopping, depending on whether I was thinking of teens or young kids. Tracie put this into words for me, we obviously we do not expect the same from students of all ages. I felt pretty confident, when thinking of young adults, that they should think of their digital footprint in terms of marketing themselves. They should show off their best, to downplay their mistakes, and provide a well rounded view of themselves that shows them in their best light. But as Jonathan mentions, they also should be truthful. The term marketing can mean many ugly things, when I use that term I think of it as showing the world who you are, truthfully, like on a paper resume highlighting your best stuff. For students leaving high school for college or the workforce, their digital life is part of their resume. So let’s help them manage it in a way to make it a true representation of themselves. Yes, they’ve made mistakes (what teenager hasn’t?), but we can teach them how to emphasize the good and move on from the bad. This works as a pretty good life philosophy in general, be it in real life or digital life.
On the other hand, the thought of my young children fine tuning their ‘resume’ at their tender young age is ludicrous. However, I can help them to save and manage their school work, activities, and accomplishments and discuss with them which ones they would like the world to see, and which are a true representation of themselves. We can then share them later when it is age appropriate.

Now to put these words into action. For myself, I have always tended to err on the side of privacy, so I need to make an effort to be more ‘visible’ online instead of trying to hide. I need to make a deliberate effort to share a true representation of who I am and beef up my Google resume! If I think of it this way, it is definitely less intimidating. I also will work with my kids to create an ePortfolio for them to share at a later time. They are at the perfect age to take this step. And with one video on YouTube already getting views in the double digits, they are into the idea of ‘being seen’, talk about a teachable moment!

“Andy” Video. Youth and Media – Digital Dossier. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79IYZVYIVLA

Week 3 Character Education

The week started with ideas involving students in the discussion of defining limits and acceptances in their virtual lives. The importance of spotlighting the differences between real life crimes and virtual life crimes for them. The requirement for all citizens to enforce acceptable digital behavior. And as a constant reminder for students to remember who is their online audience:

WHO is Googling YOU????

Warm fuzzies. My brain was swirling with ideas for students and my children. All is hunky dory. Good digital citizens we will all be. Then I Googled myself for the fun of it. Surprisingly more information than last time I checked, which was years ago, but nothing to be ashamed of or that I was wishing didn’t exist. No biggie. Then I listened to the NPR Ted Radio Hour, The End of Privacy:

“This idea of what we think of privacy today, is going to be different.” Hasan Elahi

“You show me your Google history and I will find something embarrassing or incriminating from there in five minutes.” Mikko Hypponen

“There’s a difference between stuff people put online themselves than the stuff that they don’t realize is going into foreign computers.” Mikko Hypponen

HUH? My Google history? What have I searched for that I wished I hadn’t? People can do that? My water company knows when I shower? This is getting kind of creepy and WAY beyond what I was envisioning when discussing digital character with my kids. My blissful, innocent acceptance of the internet was burst. Of course I knew better, but never had I been exposed to one example after another after another describing the ‘dark’ side of our digital world. The possibilities, the realities, the NECESSITY for responsibility! Responsibility of one’s own actions online and the responsibility of everyone to participate in enforcing guidelines and standards for civil behavior in the digital world. Of course, that won’t prevent the spread and sharing of information that others are collecting on us but at least we are minimizing the damage that we are willing to contribute ourselves.

I’ve talked myself down from my ledge. I will still love and use the internet, warts and all. However, the importance of being a good citizen online and leaving the least shameful footprint is now at the very forefront of my being. For myself and all I encounter. No scare tactics, just reality. The question keeping me in check is now two:

WHO is Googling YOU????


who IS Googling you?

Elahi, H. (Jan 31, 2014). What Would You Do If The Feds Were Watching You? NPR TED Radio Hour. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2014/01/31/265354655/what-would-you-do-if-the-feds-were-watching-you

Hypponen, M. (Jan 31, 2014). Why Should You Be Worried About NSA Surveillance? NPR TED Radio Hour. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2014/01/31/265386281/why-should-you-be-worried-about-nsa-surveillance

TED Radio Hour (September 13, 2013). Predicting the Future. Retrieved from