Whose job is it to teach the children?

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.

4 thoughts on “Whose job is it to teach the children?

  1. Bettina Meyer

    Frank, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on digital literacy and I totally agree on two points you made. Yes, technology is forever changing and we won’t keep up. Secondly, we as parents play a huge role in educating our children about technology usage and citizenship, though from observing some of my students’ behaviors, sometimes I believe we are in the minority that think like this. I think we need to be honest, there is never going to be a day where ‘everyone’ is going to be on the same page regarding the purpose or use of technology. I found this article link to edutopia.org, which includes a playlist of ideas / lessons for teachers and parents to help teach digital literacy which could be a good resource for anyone, who holds any belief about the importance of teaching digital literacy and isn’t sure where to start. Hopefully your envelope isn’t too full yet!

  2. Jennifer Keenan

    Interesting video, lots to think about!
    I agree it is much harder to bounce back from mistakes on the Internet, because they are there forever. You and LeeAnn Lindsey are right, we can’t keep up with technology, but I feel we still need to have guidelines. For one, so we teachers have a clue as to where to start. Plus, we have to have some kind of expectations of online behavior like we have behavior expectations at school. A digital citizenship policy should be one that teaches how to have a positive online presence. This type of policy may help decrease mistakes that could be very detrimental.
    link to tolerance.org This article says that punitive measures don’t really solve cyberbullying issues. Like we are finding out often positive reward systems are more effective with teaching appropriate behavior, maybe our ‘policy’ or ‘guidelines’ needs to focus on educating and communicating instead of a ‘don’t do this, don’t do that or else.’
    And we need to keep in mind that like everything, we need to be flexible, because yes, technology’s growth rate is exponential!

  3. James Rampley

    Franc, Jennifer, and Bettina,

    This is a very interesting thread! I love the idea you mention that puts some responsibility on the parents as well!! That is brilliantly appropriate as it forces parents to be aware of what students are doing. Despite the need to make things better for our students (in teacher-mode) in and out of school, I appreciate the forward thinking about teaching digital footprints and responsibilities for us to teach our children as well (in parent mode).

    Some of the terrible consequences I was enlightened on this week were quite eye-opening for me. I am always amazed with some of the different, evil, and twisted ways some people on this planet conjure up to hurt others. Sadly, there are always going to be those people no matter how well we educate the youth of tomorrow. So for me, I am in ‘dad-mode’ which means I am going to do everything in my power to educate my children on how they can develop self preservation to protect themselves from being victims. It is always something stupid (as we all do or have done when we were younger) that ignorantly lead students down a potentially harmful path.

    As parents, I know we cannot possibly police everything and everyone our children encounter. I know your children are much older than mine and I wonder what steps you have taken to heed cautions/warnings toward them in lieu of preservation of digital innocence? Was this an eye-opening experience for you to take another look (or a deeper reflection) on what you are doing to help protect your children?

    Bettina, I wonder what you have to say as I know you would love to protect your children just the same?

    Thanks for the great thought-provoking thread! (Jennifer, sorry for leaving you out. If you have children, please feel free to share too:) .)

    1. Meeka White

      HI Frank,

      I ultimately decided that parents need to take the lead on this one. And you also reminded me of a good point that Brian and Cody shared at the last PTSO Coffee Morning, parents need to determine with their children what the point and purpose of the device is. Once that is determined then parents can talk with their children about how to use that device properly. And this should not be a conversation that only happens once but one that takes place continually throughout the course of the device’s life with that child/tween/teen. And you also mentioned that too. I think we can’t pat ourselves on the back too early because we won’t really know how successful we have been at modelling and counselling our children on how best to use these devices until they are adults, and have moved through their teen years fairly unscathed!

      I also liked your last thought, “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.” I can empathize as we also will be embarking upon the same journey as you as parents ourselves.


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