Roseanne Barr, Samantha Bee, Lena Dunham, Kathy Griffin, Azealia Banks, Josh Rivers (I’m sure there are more). All these people have one interesting thing in common: they’ve recently used a social media platform to discuss/gripe/complain/assert/share questionable (or flat out disparaging/racist/rude/sexist/etc.) information to copious amounts of people. Consequently, as a result of their online behavior, many of them have issued public apologies, retracted some of their statements, and/or are seeking redemption.
Sure, we see these people in positions of power (it’s not just celebrities) also receiving consequences for their actions. This may demonstrate for children that there are consequences associated with our behaviors. However, the consequences are very reactionary. For the victims, the damage has already been done. Point being, these people in power, with huge social media followings, should never be saying or doing these things to begin with. Our children are witnessing these people in power display this kind of behavior regularly. They see it on TV, they hear it on the radio, they see it on various forms of social media or on the internet, they hear about it from their peers/parents, etc.
As educators, I see it as our responsibility to combat these negative influences and take a more proactive approach to this issue. I’m no expert in digital citizenship. But, based on my limited understanding of the concept, it sounds like it should be an essential part of the curriculum as we continue growing and developing in the digital age. I mean, just based on some of the digital citizenship elements, descriptions, and goals, it’s quite apparent that schools should emphasize:
- Digital communication – helping students understand the plethora of communication mediums and the standards and responsibilities associated with each medium.
- Digital etiquette – helping students grasp the notion that various mediums require standards of etiquette. The etiquette of these mediums includes appropriate behavior and language.
- Digital rights and responsibilities – helping students understand that, yes, they have access to platforms that have the potential to reach thousands of people online. But, with this power comes immense responsibility. Children need to demonstrate responsibility when engaging in online communities.
- Digital footprint – helping students understand that information exists about them on the internet as a result of their online activity.
Overall, we need to inculcate our children with the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully navigate the precarious terrain that is the online world. They must be able to demonstrate responsibility, empathy, restraint, good decision-making, caution, control, and respect (just to name a few). I see digital citizenship curricula as a way to help us accomplish that goal. In a time when narrowing the curriculum is so pervasive, this may sound like I’m asking a lot. Yet, I truly believe we must educate our children so that they can survive and thrive in the digital world.
Like/Comment/Share! What are your thoughts on the recent celebrity/people in positions of power social media blunders? What should we do about it to help our students? Does your school have digital citizenship curriculum? If so, how is it structured? When do you fit it in? Let me know!