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October 7, 2010 "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" By Christy Crawford
Grades 3–5

    The internet affords great power to anyone with a laptop and especially anyone with a camera and a laptop.  However, with that "power comes great responsibility".*


    Have you had that discussion with your students?

    A kid can grab a camera and make her voice heard among billions. YouTube claims it exceeds over two billion views a day-- "nearly double the prime time audience of all three major U.S. television networks combined." Two billion. . .   What kid needs the networks?  

    A tweeter or a tech-savvy kid can start a revolution online. Twitter is credited with bringing together tens of thousands of protestors in Moldova to overthrow the oppressive government. 

    Or. . .  a kid can use the internet and/or tech gadgets to repeatedly harass, humiliate or electronically ruin a classmate or peer. The suicides of Phoebe Prince,15; Alexis Skye Pilkington,17; Megan Meier,13; Ryan Halligan,13, and most recently Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi,18, highlight the evils of cyberbullying. 

    Do you remember just how cruel school mates can be? Imagine the possibilities if (without accountability) students think they are anonymously texting, sexting and posting online.  

    Parents and teachers need to harness digital power.  Although people over the age of 30 did not grow up with the kind of technology available today; that does not negate our responsibility to navigate the electronic jungle that our children play in every day. For certain, it does not negate our responsibility to discuss and train children on the proper use of digital tools.

    When is it time to start?  First grade is a wonderful time to begin training young people to protect themselves online, make them empathetic digital citizens and ad-savvy surfers.  By third grade, most of my students are bombarded with online ads in the games they play.  These eight-year-olds are chatting away in Club Penguin and posting pictures or commenting on an older sibling's MySpace or Facebook page. Reports of cyberbullying often begin in third grade.

                  Harness the WWW (Wild Wild West) 

        A Fifth Grader's Letter To Parents 1. Survey your students and then begin 21st century         family/school discussions with student letters or e-mails to         parents.  Click the letter to read a note from one of my         10-year-old students to his family.                      

        2. Invite parents to school for a digital "show and tell" . Parents         listen and learn as students become teachers, guiding them         through the hottest sites and digital gadgets for tweens and         teens.

        3.  Check out for some of the best lessons on           using digital media in a safe, smart and responsible           manner. The site has FREE K-12 curriculum on everything           from cyberbullying to preventing plagiarism. Cybersmart also offers home connections so students and parents will continue the conversation. and offer more great content. (Elementary school students will love movies starring iKeepsafe's FauxPaw the Techno Cat.)   

            4. Get top tips on stopping cyberbullying and keep up with the latest information             at and the Cyberbullying Research Center.  

    Join the conversation to protect our youth. Share your favorite digital citizen safety site here or simply comment.

    Liberation used to come with a driver’s license, chance to work, or voting ballot; but now liberation is achieved via access to the web. It is our duty to become familiar with digital tools in order to act as our children’s technology tour guides -- creating the rules and boundaries for the voyages our young explorers embark on daily. 


    *The quote "With great power, comes great responsibility" has been loosely attributed to Luke 12:48, paraphrased in the speeches of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt and most recently used in the works of the amazing Stan Lee. 



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