Students of our 21st century are living and growing in a constantly changing technological world. Although this development has potential and great benefits, it comes with an increased risk for student safety.
For ECMP355, we were given the task of watching Sext Up Kids, a film documentary that discusses issues and shows the truth about the hyper sexualized culture being developed in young children, often due to unfiltered or increased access to negative and inappropriate social media. This documentary was eye-opening to say the least. As an educator, it is quite scary to think that my students could be being influenced or given access to social media that is inappropriate and detrimental to their health. It really proves that we need to step in as educators along with the help of parents to teach students at a young age how to create positive digital citizenship and how to access and use social media appropriately.
The film mentions that our whole societal culture is changing the ways in which girls and boys are portraying themselves. Things like toys (Barbies, princesses) and clothing can have negative health effects on young girls, including depression, lack of self esteem, risk taking, and overall mental health. Young boys and girls now have the opportunity to access sites on social media that display inappropriate ideas of sexual identity and fantasy-like concepts. The online culture is teaching children to flaunt and promote themselves. Children and youth are developing representations of themselves to fit into society. They often feel “comfortable” doing this and see no wrong. It is our job as educators to teach students the difference between right and wrong, and public and private when it comes to technology and our personal lives.
What can we do?
We need to teach our students digital citizenship- critically. Learning about digital citizenship helps teachers understand what students should know about how to use technology appropriately. Social media is happening at a fast speed, so fast that it is hard for us to control our digital footprints. The only thing we can truly do to keep up with this fast-paced technological society is to educate students about how to use it.
It is important to teach students about digital knowledge. After watching Sext Up Kids, I was eager to find resources in which I could use to help me educate my students about online safety and digital citizenship. I went onto Feedly and the web to help me gather a variety of resources.
- 9 Themes of Digital Citizenship– This highlights a variety of themes including digital literacy, digital security, digital etiquette, and communication. It mentions that respect, education and protection around digital identity needs to begin in Kindergarten.
- T.H.I.N.K before posting to Social Media– This is a video I came across developed by some school students. They highlight the acronym of T.H.I.N.K. before you post. Is it true? Is it hurtful? Is it illegal? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
- Digital Citizenship: Teaching Students About Safe and Responsible Use of Technology– A video that highlights the importance of educating teachers about how to teach students about digital citizenship and how to monitor privacy settings.
- Educational Technology and Mobile Learning– This site provides some resources for teaching students about cyber-safety.
- Internet Safety for Younger Students– This is a great article that I found which is directed to younger children. It provides a sort of layout of a lesson plan designed to help students understand the importance of being safe on the internet.
Our digital and personal lives are no longer separate. We need to constantly think about using technology to better our students and their lives. One question I still have to discover is about our digital lives versus our personal lives. Jason Ohler, who wrote the article Character Education for the Digital Age posts a thought-provoking question.
“Should we teach our students to have two lives, or one?” – Ohler
I encourage you to read Jason Ohler’s article and think about how we should teach students and educate them about technology. I would also appreciate any feedback or thoughts, as I still do not know the answer to this question.