Posted on August 11, 2015 by Diana Graber
Earlier this summer, Disneyland announced that it was issuing a ban on the selfie stick. They decided that the “magic wand of narcissism,” as the selfie stick has been called, had no place at the happiest place on earth.
Selfie sticks have also been banned at other public venues, from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Coliseum in Rome. Meanwhile, Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs just launched a public health campaign, called the “Safety Selfie,” to reduce deaths and injuries caused by people taking dangerous selfie photos. The program warns Russians that their “health and life” are worth more than “a million likes on social networks.”
It seems silly that we need bans and campaigns to tell us that waving one’s phone around at the end of a long stick in a crowded place is a bad idea. But there you have it. Like cavemen just discovering fire, we’re still learning how to use our new toys safely.
When technology and real world experiences clash, as in the case of the selfie stick and crowded places, guidelines or best practices can help keep everybody happy. That’s exactly what “digital citizenship” is: Best practices for technology use. And, evidently, it’s in need now more than ever.
But digital citizenship can’t be learned overnight. It encompasses many topics and issues (as you’ll see below), which is why we developed a year-long curriculum, called Cyber Civics, that prepares students to use technology safely and wisely.
Does your school need lessons in digital citizenship? Here is a seven-question test to find out:
Are parents and educators at your school prepared to teach kids how to protect their online privacy? Do they know how to talk about or answer questions regarding identity theft, privacy settings, creating strong passwords and more?
What about online reputation management? Are educators and parents prepared to show kids how to be proactive managers of their digital footprints? Do they even know what a digital footprint is?
How will parents and educators address the important topic of online relationships? Who will set boundaries and expectations that help kids experience positive relationships online? How will kids be taught to avoid and/or prevent cyberbullying, sexting or other negative and potentially dangerous online relationships?
How will parents and educators talk to kids about making ethical decisions online? Decisions that will help them avoid possible illegal activities like plagiarism, copyright infringement or hacking?
If a school-issued device goes home with the student are parents prepared to set healthy limits and expectations for its use? Are they familiar with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ media use recommendations?
Who will students and/or parents turn to if problems arise?
Are administrators, counselors, teachers and/or parents adequately prepared to deal with potential problems?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then it’s high time for digital citizenship.
The powerful technologies kids carry around in their pockets connect them with the world in new ways that can be both wonderfully positive and horribly negative. Digital citizenship is the preemptive measure that helps tip the balance towards positive. And it helps keep them safe from selfie sticks.
To try a free lesson in Cyber Civics, please visit our website.
Diana Graber is co-founder of CyberWise, the go-to source for grown-ups seeking to help kids be safe and productive online. She is also the founder and teacher of Cyber Civics™, a middle school digital media literacy program. As Adjunct Faculty of Media Psychology at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, she taught Media Psychology to graduate students and is a regular blogger for The Huffington Post and others.