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We’ve said it before, and we say it again, the world today has changed tremendously, and it owes most of it to technology. Its effects have been so significant that using technology has become as rudimentary as eating and breathing to our children. And the more surprising fact is that this is often not by choice, since from the moment they are born, children are exposed to technology in one form or the other, marking their registry as a certified digital citizen into the modern world.
Now, as educators, it is our duty to instill values in our students that can help them become valuable members of society. And to do this, we need to be wholly aware of the values that conform to the changing world. Being compassionate and organized are undoubtedly essential life skills, but in this technology-driven world, knowing how to be a responsible and certified digital citizen is also very important.
WHY BE A CERTIFIED DIGITAL CITIZEN
Being a certified digital citizen doesn’t mean that your student needs to get some certificate of good behavior. Rather it means your students inherently understand what kind of attitude to foster towards technology that can help them protect themselves and others from the vices and harmful temptations that come with it. Let’s briefly discuss a few issues that your students should be aware of:
One of the most important concerns over a digital presence is privacy. While even most adults are often ignorant of this, it is essential that you teach your students why they should protect their private information online and that they are at least aware of what data privacy is.
For younger students making the distinction between what kind of information should never be shared online is critical. Let them know that information such as their home address, phone numbers, identity documents should never be shared with anyone online. If they do need to share it for some reason, it should be done under the strict supervision of their guardians. Since a digital identity is sometimes as important as a real one, students should be told to keep their online accounts safe by keeping strong and unique passwords and never giving anyone access to their accounts. Online identity theft can have consequences, and only by being aware of them can students prevent it.
Cyber Bullying and Anonymity
The internet can provide the opportunity to be completely anonymous online by either using platforms that encourage using handle names to hide user identity or by building fake profiles on social media. Doing either of the two can give a false sense of security which can, in turn, encourage disruptive behavior. This disruptive behavior is often in the form of cyber-bullying, an absolute plague for digital citizens. The beauty of social media is that it allows people to find like-minded individuals and freely express themselves.
Cyberbullying is in direct contrast to this and is liable to make the online community a very unruly place to be. Students need to understand that they need to conduct themselves with compassion and be respectful of their community members, whether in the real world or the digital world. Building fake profiles for ulterior motives should always be discouraged, and students should be taught to speak up against anyone whose aim is to spread negativity online. Being an upstanding digital citizen should be the golden standard for any student who wishes to keep an online presence.
Social Media Detox
Often enough, the lives we see on social media are idealized, hidden behind smoke and mirrors or more relevantly, filters. They are by no means a true reflection of how the majority of us live our lives, which is why any content consumed online should always be taken with a pinch of skepticism. Otherwise, students may subconsciously relate their own lives with others, often resulting in depression.
Similarly, students may also be taught about taking time off social media. Too much of anything is never a good thing, and simply spending a short period away can give both a new perspective and do wonders for your mental health.
Technology has allowed the world to burst with information. This information always has a human source, somebody who sat down, did the work, and left it for everybody else to benefit from. Having free access to information does not give you free liberties to it. Students should be told about the vice of plagiarism; they may be tempted to use somebody else’s work as their own; this is no less than intellectual theft. Instead, as dutiful digital citizens, they should always give credit to the original owner.
Easy Ways to Encourage Good Digital Citizenship
Encouraging good digital behavior doesn’t need to be a planned event with allotted time every week. Rather, it should be something done every now and then as a regular activity. Here are some easy ways to do this:
- Every day before the class begins, talk about social media balance discuss how much time students spent online on average.
- Set weekly certified digital citizen themes, talk about one crucial topic as cyberbullying one week and another the following.
- Ask students if they came across something online that they weren’t sure how to respond to. Follow up with responsible behavior to similar examples.
- Get students involved; ask them to prepare presentations against pressing issues to increase awareness.
- Use online resources such as Common Sense Education or from International Society for Technology in Education to teach students through a thoroughly planned curriculum.
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DO YOUR HOMEWORK
You need to become a prime example yourself before you can make your students upstanding digital citizens. This may require you to become a little tech-savvy and explore many resources yourself, but only a master can raise geniuses. Our advice is thoroughly research anything you want to convey to your students and understand how relevant it is to today’s world.