Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety
The term "Digital Citizenship" relates to the concept that people that reside in a digital world share in rights and responsibilities as members of the community. In addition, a good citizen works to benefit the larger community. This idea helps parents and teachers understand what students should know to use technology appropriately. Engaging students in activities that teach Digital Citizenship prepares students to participate and benefit from a society full of technology. When children and adults abuse and misuse technology it's because they do not know what is considered appropriate technology usage. We must provide direct instruction and support as our children learn the principles of Digital Citizenship.
Principles of Digital Citizenship for Students
1. Digital Etiquette - standards of conduct and good manners
2. Digital Communication - information exchanged, collaboration using the Internet
3. Digital Literacy - the use of technology in teaching and learning, decipher and utilize information
4. Digital Law - responsibility for actions and accountability for using other's work
5. Digital Rights & Responsibilities - everyone in a digital world is extended freedom and with that freedom must take responsibility for their actions
6. Digital Security (self-protection) - electronic precautions to guarantee safety.
Issues with Technology Use Involving Students
Cyberbullying is the use of any electronic medium to harass, threaten, intimidate or harm someone. It includes the use of e-mail, instant messaging, chat rooms, surveys in a blog or website, or cell phones. Cyberbullying is not only done by children, but adults. This is why it is important to take this issue very seriously. Cyberbullying is worse than face to face bullying because the bully can remain anonymous and the victims seemingly can not escape from the harassment. Here are some scenarios that parents need to be aware of to keep their children safe:
Emails can be forwarded to anyone. Forwarding emails that were meant to be kept private could cause a great deal of embarrassment.
Never sign into your email, IM, online profile account at someone else's house. This gives someone the opportunity to sign in and take on your identity to spread rumors, say mean things to others, or post information that could be used to harass.
Never put a picture online or say anything that you "wouldn't want Grandma to see". Even if you change your mind later and remove a picture from a website, it's too late. Someone can download it and continue to distribute it for others to see on other sites or through IM and email.
Research shows that most parents don't know about their teens' online behavior
Teens whose parents don't monitor them offline (or online) are more likely to cyberbully
Emphasize to your children that they should not say anything online that they wouldn't say to a person's face. It helps to model that behavior.
Ask you kids where they go online and who they are with, just as you would when your child leaves the house.
Young people who use instant messenger (more girls than boys) are much more likely to be cyberbullied or to cyberbully. Make sure children know appropriate online etiquette and how to end a conversation they don't like.
Studies show that children are becoming more savvy when it comes to ignoring, blocking, or telling adults about unwanted messages.
Assure your children that you are available to help them resolve issues without taking away their internet privileges.
Understand that to young people the Internet is an important part of their self-identity, relationship formation, and social development.
It's important for children to find a balance between "fitting in" to a world where the Internet is an integral part of growing up and participating in a way that reflects good character, integrity, and common sense. Many adults are extremely fearful about the risks to their children online. Knowledge is power when it comes to guiding children in a world that seems so unfamiliar. A recent study, "Online 'Predators' and Their Victims: Myths, Realities, and Implications for Prevention and Treatment," is a must-read for parents and guardians worried about what their children may face online. Some important points from this study should help you understand the online world a little better:
It's extremely important to pay attention to your teens' online activities to determine which tools they're using and how they are using them.
Predators are more likely to communicate with teens in chatrooms and through IM rather than their social networking pages on MySpace and Facebook.
Media coverage of online predators has been sensationalized. For example, most online predators who solicit are teenage boys.
Posting personal information online by itself does not put young people at risk for danger. When teens post personal information and engage in other risky behavior, such as talking to unknown people online about provocative subject matters, can put themselves at risk. In addition, studies have found that teens that engage in risky behavior offline, are more likely to put themselves at risk online.
Posting personal information including provocative pictures, secrets, or other revealing information should be avoided for many reasons. These include the opportunity for cyberbullies to use information to damage reputations, the opportunity for scammers to use information to steal identities, and depending on the content - can impact the decision of future employers and colleges.