A new school year brings with it, the excitement of meeting friends, not seen all summer. The smell of fresh new books, the possibility of new experiences, new teachers, subjects, for many the monumental move from a primary to secondary schools. As our children face in to this adventure next week, parents should also prepare.
The digital world has become part of our lives now. So as parents we all need to educate and encourage the appropriate, responsible use of this technology. We are asking parents to help reinforce the message of Good Digital Citizenship when children go online.
What is Digital Citizenship?
Everyone who enters the digital world does so with the same initial sense of wonder and excitement. The ability to meet new friends, discover all the wonders the human world has to offer, new experiences never before thought possible. However, just like the real world the online world has its own dangers. We always encourage the positive use of technology, seek out the amazing benefits, and most importantly, just like the real world avoid the dark areas and those who would seek to cause harm to those who are vulnerable online.
Being a Digital Citizen, means that a person, young or old, undertakes to be responsible for their actions when they are active in the online world. Never to seek out danger, but if encountered, always report it. Contribute to, and try make the online world a place of wonder and safety for everyone.
Consider your role and what are your responsibilities when going online?
We want people to go online, be curious, investigate, learn, discover, and create new ideas, new concepts. Become lost in the knowledge and information available at your fingertips. Share your knowledge and experiences. Challenge the negative elements and the idealisms which cause harm if you encounter them. One voice, one message, can be a very powerful, especially when confronting those who would seek to bully, belittle or inflict pain and suffering on others.
We each have a responsibility to defend not only our own rights, but those of others. Challenge in a positive way, those for whom the intoxication of power or anonymity have corrupted their mind set, seeing them now impose dystopian will on those who may be incapable of speaking out for themselves. Protect the innocent, the weak and the oppressed. There may come a day when anyone us would appreciate and rather seeing others speaking out on our behalf, instead of against us in an hour of need. Sometime the online world can be a cruel and hateful place. We should all be mindful of those who are targeted, and help if we can.
The Big 7 Rule
Before ever committing your thoughts or words to a digital forum, consider rule of the big 7.
What am I trying to achieve here?
Why am I posting this?
Do I have permission to post this?
Who is this message intended for?
Is what I am posting true?
Will it cause harm to someone?
Am I happy for the entire planet to read or see this post, comment or image?
If you can answer all of the above in a positive way, your post, blog or image is ready to share. Always ask yourself the questions what, why, who, where, when and how, when creating anything to post online. You are responsible for what you bring and contribute to the online world. Good or bad, you have to understand there may be serious consequences for online activity which is harmful or disrespectful.
Make a Change
Where there are problems find solutions. Don’t be another person who just looks at things the way they are and ask why. Be the person who dreams of things that never were, and asks why not? – George Bernard Shaw The world is filled with people who want to make matters worse, be a positive influence. Through your actions, let others see the realised potential of constructive and progressive online contributions and ideas. It’s easy to be negative, even easier to say, what can I do about it, I’m only one person. A single person with a belief, even when all others doubt or punish them, can bring about incredible change. The internet is the doorway to almost every person on the entire planet. Even the softest and meekest of voices, can be heard, as if it was the roar of a lion.
Embrace the abilities and responsibility of being online and the protection of the weak
Injustice is something we see both online, and off. People can be really hurt, and families devastated. Bullies, establishments, organisations and even governments, sometime work against the best interests of people. Where injustice is found, we should expose it. All too often, those who suffer most, do so out of fear of reprisal. Dr Martin Luther King once told us, “Society’s punishments are small, compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul, when we look the other way”.
We should never be so afraid, we find ourselves having to look the other way. Never look the other way. Sometimes things need to change. Old ways are dystopian. There can be enormous resistance change. Individuals and their families can be broken apart, ostracised, viciously punished, grossly mistreated, and even driven to the edge of insanity or far worse, just for doing the right thing. Especially, in an environment where doing the right thing, was not the right thing to do. By being a Good Digital Citizen, we can look out for individuals like these. Those who really need our help.
Technology as a communication tool, can be a very positive way to help, heal, resolve and promote, positive fair transparent ideals and beliefs. It should never be used in a negative, judgemental, accusatory way. We embrace, support and encourage our humanity both online and off. Join forces and work in partnership to create something better for the many, not the few.
There are so many ways for a voice to be heard, through posts, blogs, video, podcasts, the list is endless. This type of medium that can reach a global audience, has never before been so freely available. Now everyone has to potential to bring their experiences to people who can benefit, from what they have to say. Be original, be imaginative, be yourself. There is a global blank canvas there, it only needs you to get to work on it.
Beak away from stereotypical ideas. Your experiences good or bad, might make an incredible difference to so many others, who may not yet have found their voice, but needed to hear your message. It is also very important to confirm everything that you report as being factually correct, before you convey information of any kind to others. There is enough Fake News in circulation already. It is important to highlight false misleading or discriminatory information when you see it. This helps to protect the Digital Citizen Community.
Finally, learn to differentiate what you should share online and the private, or personal information best kept to yourself. Everyone is entitled to privacy in their lives, both online and off. Oversharing too much personal information, can bring with it many negative consequences. So consider carefully what you share with the world, before sharing it.
A special word of thanks to #beyondtheclick, who provided the 10 elements of Global Digital Citizenship on which today’s blog is based. Their tool kit for Digital Citizenship can be downloaded from toolkit.8020.ie. This technology has so many positives. We need to embrace and promote these positives, root out and then remove the negatives, while making sure this online world is a safe, enjoyable and productive fun environment for everyone.