In an always connected world how can we help our students and our children become better, more thoughtful problems solvers when they encounter challenging dilemmas? What can adults do to encourage young people to grow into citizens who understand how to examine issues and problems from a range of perspectives — theirs, of course, but also the possible ramifications of theirs in the context of a community where they live, with others, or even the world. Each parent and every teacher ask these reflective questions again and again as they observe young people navigating through their online lives.
The questions change a bit in the midst of a digital problem or public embarrassment, caused by misuse or misunderstandings on the Internet. In those situations it’s not uncommon to hear people, and young people especially, exclaim, “Why did I do that?” or “What was I thinking?” Or even more often an adult asks a child, “What were you thinking?” These questions come up when there is little to reflect
In her book, Disconnected: Youth New Media and the Ethics Gap, Carrie James (read author’s bio) suggests some answers to these questions as she shares the results of her qualitative research with young people ages 10 – 25 and also with parents of digital natives. James examines the decisions that young people make and how they respond to digital life ethical problems. In her research the author documents how participants think about and solve privacy, participation, speech, and intellectual property dilemmas, finding that the most of the young people tended to examine issues and respond to problems with a self-focused perspective or a friend-focused moral perspective. Only rarely did the young subjects in her interviews engage in more complex ethical thinking by considering perspectives from the viewpoint of a larger community, a group, or even society as a whole. Continue reading