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Action Plan

Digital Citizenship Initiative to Better Support the 21st Century Needs of Students
Audience: Parents- This action plan is aimed at teaching parents how to be supportive of their children in their day to day transactions with technologies and how to help them become more responsible as they interact with these technologies.

Definition of concept: What is Digital Citizenship?- Digital Citizenship is critical thinking and ethical choices about the content and impact on oneself, others, and one's community of what one sees, says, and produces with media, devices, and technologies." -Ann Collier, Editor of Net Family

Issue/Challenge related to Digital Citizenship: According to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project (as cited in Lenhart, Madden, Macgill, & Smith, 2007), 93% of teens use the more intensely now than they did in the past (Leland, Ociepka, & Kuonen, 2012). However, they have been questions regarding the digital ethics, rights & responsibilities of these young people. We find that some of them engage in cyber bullying instead of using the internet creatively and positively. Leland, Ociepka, & Kuonen (2012), gave a very good example of an issue that has led to some of these concerns on how our students/ children use the internet: Eighth-grade teacher Kate Kuonen was not planning to introduce a unit focusing on social networking sites (SNSs) when she started the school year. After all, the most popular sites like MySpace and Facebook had rules requiring users to be at least 13 years old, and most of her students were only 12. But during the summer, she heard that she was being lied about on an eighth graders MySpace page (p.28) We often find scenarios like this in our schools today where students resort to bullying their peers, likewise saying inappropriate things about adults in their lives/ teachers online. Often times, this sort of action are usually accompanied by grave consequences such as suicide or suicide attempts, and students partake in them without knowing their consequences. Leland, Ociepka, & Kuonen (2012) in their study on how eight graders use the online forum reported that many students admitted using online forums to tell lies, spread gossip, or make fun of others. A few also said they were sorry (p.30). Currently efforts are being made to address this issue in my school as teachers discuss some of these issues with students, endeavouring to point out to them how they might be hurting others from this type of online misconduct. However, little effort has been made to involve parents in this challenge. Ribble (2008) stated that beginning the discussion on digital citizenship in our

Action Plan schools and providing a process for implementing it is a good start, but there is a missing component to this equation. We need to bring parents and community members into this discussion as well(p.17). There needs to be a common language between our schools and homes that clearly outlines what we expect our children (as well as ourselves) to know and follow (Ribble, 2008, p.17). Objectives: To help parents understand what is going on socially, technologically, and developmentally in their childrens world. To provide parents with age-appropriate guidelines to encourage the kind of safe, responsible, and respectful behaviour that allows their children reap the benefits of digital technologies. To curb, control and if possible eradicate the spread of online cruelty.

Action Steps: Introduction Find out how parents use the internet themselves. Are they digital citizens? Share and discuss the nine themes of digital citizenship with parents Why is digital citizenship important? Watch and discuss video Find out whether or not parents know how their kids use the online forum via a questionnaire. Find out what parents know about cyber bullying. Discuss. Ask parents to share whether or not their kids have been bullied or have bullied others online before. Find out if kids were open enough to share their online ethics with their parents. Ask parents what they have done to help their kids who have been bullied. Play videos on cyber bullying- Discuss videos with parents. What do they think of it? Can parents relate to video? Ask why they think kids bully their peers online. Play video on what kids say about cyber bullying Discuss video with parents. Explain to parents that some kids are ignorant of how their online practices affect others and as such need to be taught how to use the internet/ digital technologies more effectively, for their good and for the good of others. Let parents understand the importance of this role because there examples of students who have to gear down when they are in schools because there is such a difference between their use of technology at home and at school. Perhaps they have more freedom at home because their parents are not aware of the issues within digital citizenship (Ribble, 2008, p.17). For cyber bullying to be curtailed, there need not to be a disconnection between what students do in schools and at home. How can parents help?

Action Plan Play and Discuss Video- Start Early- Parents need to understand they can teach proper digital ethics to their kids as early as preschool Encourage Empathy- Parents can start as early as kindergarten to teach kids to show empathy towards others. Tips available at: Set the rules- Between ages 7-8, kids begin to assert individuality and question their parents/ adults authority. It is important that parents understand they need to continue setting the rules. Tips at: Beware of peer pressure- Parents need to understand that social pressure for preteens increases and this might impede their ability to differentiate right from wrong, thus affecting how they navigate their online world. Tips at: Watch for warning signs- It should be explained to parents that kids/ teens may not want to tell them they are cyber bullied. Teens may be struggling with how to make good choices and determining ethical behaviour. Tips at: Keep talking and listening- It should be explained to parents that the older kids get, the more they explore lots of identity which might eventually lead to developing some sort of insecurity. Hence, they should engage in more conversation with their kids on how they use their digital technologies and how they can stand up to bullying situations. Tips at: Conclusion Have parents share what they have learnt. Give room for Q/A sections. Encourage parents to sign up with where they can get very useful tips on how to help their digital natives and sign up for newsletters as well.

References Leland, C., Ociepka, A. & Kuonen, K. (2012). Finding our way: Eight graders Social Networking Sites. Voice from the Middle, 19(4), pp. 28-31. Lenhart, A., Madden, M., Macgill, A., Smith, A. (2007). Teens and social media: The use of social media gains a greater foothold in teen life as they embrace the conversational nature of interactive online media. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved from www.pewinternet .org/PPF/r/230/report_display.asp. Ribble, M. (2008). Passport to digital citizenship: Journey toward appropriate technology use at school and at home. Learning & Leading with Technology, pp.14-17.