Whose job is it to teach these digital citizenship skills?
I think LeeAnn Lindsey, who is a technology infusion and professional development coordinator clearly states the challenges with teaching students about digital citizenship; it is more difficult for students to learn from mistakes, it is difficult if not impossible to keep pace with new technology and those involved in technology such as technology educators, classroom teachers, school administration and parents are not on the same page regarding technology usage. So, before we talk about who should teach our children about digital citizenship, I think we need to accept a few realities about the challenges of technology. First, we need to accept the fact that the growth of technology is too fast to keep pace with. We need to stop pretending we are in control and have the ability to set guidelines and privacy settings which keep us safe. We can’t and we need to accept that fact.
Secondly, Lindsey’s point in the video regarding all those involved must be on the same page is very important. Before we begin teaching our children about digital citizenship, we all need to be on the same page about how we view technology in terms of its purpose.
If we are not consistent in our delivery, than our children’s understanding of technology will be scattered at best.
We need to have many more discussions amongst the adults involved before we begin teaching our students. I would go as far to say that I do not believe schools are ready yet to teach digital citizenship.
However, we live in a world where we rush into things without taking the required time to set it up correctly. We can be an impatient society and in the world of education, there are lots of moments where we dive head first into a pedagogical approach without checking to see if the swimming pool even has any water in it! I think we are rushing our dialogue with students about technology. We need to observe them more and simply engage in discussions rather than establishing guidelines of safe practice which will possibly be irrelevant in a short span of time. If we accept the fact that we can’t keep pace with technology, then let’s take a step back; a pause to simply observe and have discussion. With that said, I do believe we need to prioritize the discussion topics with students and start with the idea of permanency regarding technology. Mistakes are more challenging because once it is posted, it is posted for life. Children need to first understand this foundational principle of technology.
As a parent and an educator, I see both being involved in educating children about safe use of technology, however I will tip the balance of responsibility much more towards the parents. These are our children. We know them. We are the ones they should feel most safe with and therefore we are the ones who should be having discussions about technology with them. When we discuss with our children, we need to do so with open ears and at least a little empathy of what life as a pre-adolescent must be like. As hard as this is for me to accept, I cannot simply come up with a couple of technology rules and consequences for breaking those rules and then sit back and pat myself on the back for great parenting. Technology is not going away and I can’t control it. All I can do is have real conversations with my daughters, teach them some realities about technology, ask them questions and then create a budget envelope and start putting money away for the therapy I will need later.