Times are changing. They have always been changing. But now, more than ever, we are experiencing the impact of changes in the digital world. . . and the reality that this has on our youth is enormous.
Like Brittany, I remember the good old days when we were kids, and the excitement you could find in getting invited over to someone’s house, to really get to know them. I remember looking at the posters on my older cousins walls, and hearing them rewind the tapes as they listened to Spin Doctors over and over and over…. and It. Was. Thrilling! Fast forward to today though, and this thrill has changed. With the click of a button, a person can get to know anyone, anywhere… The face to face interactions in getting to know others has been replaced with an interactive screen. It is amazing, spooky, and concerning all at once.
Children today, are interacting with technology at younger ages than one might expect.
Mike Ribble said it best when he explained that kids today, are coming to school having interacted with technology, but whether they have a knowledge of how to use it appropriately or not is another question. Clearly, there is a need for teaching digital citizenship starting at a very young age. This has changed so much since when I was a kid hitting up the tech savvy black and white Gameboys with my sisters.
The need for digital citizenship education became apparent to my study buddy Bree Arguin and I this summer when we began interacting with the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools document. Together, we took the time to look at the amazing continuums in this document, that clearly laid out what youth today NEED to know, at different grades. We felt that it was important to make this document even more live by developing an interactive continuum for teachers to use that would help them to know what to actually teach at different grade levels… so we invented THIS!! Check it out!
Over the past 5 years, it has become evident to me that we need to help students to create their digital footprint. This needs to be done in a way that would make students proud as they mature and grow into young adults.
Perhaps Jocelyn Carr said it best when she began looking at digital footprints as digital tattoos. I too see a digital footprint as something permanent like a tattoo. I remember being 16 and thinking that a tattoo on my big toe would be a good idea… I was 16!!! Thankfully my mother threatened to disown me, and I made the wiser decision to stay a blank canvas. Digital tattoos are no different, the only difference is that we do let children, at much younger ages, drive the vehicle that navigates their digital footprints…. and we don’t seem to worry about the permanence of their actions. Something seems wrong with this… It is essential that we support our youth as they embark on developing a digital footprint, so that it is reflective of the image they want to create long term, rather than creating a digital tattoo that cannot be erased years down the road.
Mobile learning coach, Jennifer Scheffer goes as far as to help her students create LinkedIn profiles so that by the time that they finish their senior year, they understand and have the digital tools to market themselves so that they may craft a professional and personal profile that will help them achieve their dream jobs. To me, this couldn’t be a better step in the right direction. When we look at the sad realities of students taking their lives as a result of poor choices online, and other depressing realities that result from one wrong click of a button, Scheffer appears to be headed in the right direction.
As we move into the future, I think that we are being called to action, to help youth from the youngest ages to recognize their digital identity. To me, this identity is as important as understanding one’s culture or ethnicity. Without understanding how one’s choices will impact themselves online and in the face to face life, beyond the screen, we cannot really guide our youth safely. As Megan shared in her Content Catalyst, we must be aware of the policies and regulations that lie within the apps we use, because if Apps such as SnapChat suddenly changed their terms of usage, we want to rest assured that a photo we never thought twice about before sending, does not become our next biggest nightmare.