The global online network is a wonderful thing that has allowed our generation to grow up in a world with limitless information that is at the touch of our fingertips. However, with this great and wonderful tool has brought along with it an unintended and unforeseeable issue. That is, how people (especially teens) conduct themselves while using the internet.
We hear a lot about what it means to be a good citizen in a democratic country, but do we hear enough about something that is arguably just as important? For this digital citizenship can, as Juan Enriquez put it, allow us to become immortalize in our online digital footprint. What if all we have is a negative footprint? Do we want to be remembered for those nasty tweets that we posted? Digital citizenship should not be taken as a half-hearted subject, and as something can simply be learned on one’s own. This topic needs to be regularly discussed and taught about. Without doing so, adults and teens will continue to live their digital lives in a manner that possibly reflects poorly on themselves in the future. It can also put their safety and possibly lives in jeopardy. The Dangers of Social Media: Exploring a Teen’s Digital Footprint in 6 Clicks or Less video showed exactly this. It showed how dangerous it is when kids or their friends and family post things and how easily somebody can access personal information that many of time were not intended for outside eyes.
Before we go any further, one must fully understand what digital citizenship truly is. It is an “ethical” and responsible manner of conduct that individuals use. That includes being mindful of safety for themselves and others. Teaching digital citizenship confronts these issues along with allowing appropriate development in learning the necessary skills and knowledge that are required in today’s world.
One thing we that needs to be fully understand when using the internet or any social media outlet is that everything we post or click on is permanent. There is no way around it. Even if you click the delete or clear history button, whatever we click on or post is out there now forever. With a little bit of skill, anyone could access that information and use it. This “electronic tattoo” as Enriquez stated is something that we should all consider before we act upon those impulses.
Consider this, have you ever wish you hadn’t said or posted something that possibly offended or hurt someone’s feeling? If you had stopped and took a step back, would you still have said or posted those things? More than likely you wouldn’t have, and it’s those impulse decisions that can really put you in some sticky situations. Situations that nobody ever wishes to be in. So, along with digital citizenship, we need to teach our students and kids how important it is to not act on those impulses and learn to control those feelings and outlet them in a positive and constructive way.
Regardless of how much you use the internet, there is a digital footprint that has slowly (or in some people’s cases extremely fast) been building. The best way to go about this is to become a role model, and learn how to be a quality digital citizen in the 21st century.
Here are the links to all the articles and videos that I viewed while researching this topic.