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. . . Â What kid needs the networks? Â
Or. . .Â a kid can use the internet and/or tech gadgets to repeatedly harass, humiliate or electronically ruin a classmate or peer. The suicides ofÂ Phoebe Prince,15;Â Alexis Skye Pilkington,17;Â Megan Meier,13;Â Ryan Halligan,13,Â and most recently Rutgers University studentÂ Tyler Clementi,18, highlight the evils of cyberbullying.Â
Do you remember just how cruel school mates can be? Imagine the possibilities if (without accountability) students think they are anonymously texting,Â sextingÂ and posting online. Â
Parents and teachers need to harness digital power.Â Â 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 theÂ properÂ use of digital tools.
When is it time to start?Â Â First grade is a wonderful time to begin training young people to protect themselves online, make them empathetic digital citizens and ad-savvy surfers.Â By third grade, most of my students are bombarded with online ads in the games they play. Â These eight-year-olds are chatting away inÂ Club PenguinÂ and posting pictures or commenting on an older sibling's MySpace or Facebook page. Reports of cyberbullying often begin in third grade.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Harness the WWW (Wild Wild West)Â
Â Â Â 1. Survey your students and then begin 21st century Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â family/school discussions with student letters or e-mails to Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â parents. Â Click the letter to read a note from one of my Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 10-year-old students to his family.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â 2.Â Invite parents to school for a digital "show and tell" . Parents Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â listen and learn as students become teachers, guiding them Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â through the hottest sites and digital gadgets for tweens and Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â teens.
Â Â Â 3. Â Check outÂ Cybersmart.orgÂ for some of the best lessons on Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â using digital media in a safe, smart and responsible Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â manner.Â The site has FREE K-12 curriculum on everything Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â from cyberbullying to preventing plagiarism. Cybersmart also offersÂ homeÂ connectionsÂ so students and parents will continue the conversation.Â Netsmartz.orgÂ andÂ iKeepsafe.orgÂ offer more great content. (Elementary school students will love movies starring iKeepsafe's FauxPaw the Techno Cat.)Â Â Â
Join the conversation to protect our youth. Share your favorite digital citizen safety site here or simply comment.
Liberation used to come with a driverâs license, chance to work, or voting ballot; but now liberation is achieved via access to the web.Â It is our duty to become familiar with digital tools in order to act as our childrenâs technology tour guides -- creating the rules and boundaries for the voyages our young explorers embark on daily.Â
*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.Â