Teach Children About Anonymity Before They Make Mistakes

childing typingAnonymity presents digital kids with a complicated social obstacle — one they must confront and understand if they are to protect themselves from potential problems. Digital anonymity is not a friendly concept for growing children. I’d argue, in fact, that it’s downright dangerous, but app makers continue to offer the feature. For now these apps are a part of many digital kids’ daily lives, often negatively affecting their digital wellness.

No child with a connected device is immune from possible trouble caused by anonymity, because issues can arise in an instant, often as a part of routine online social interactions. Anonymous opportunities take advantage of kids’ developing brains, encouraging them to make public mistakes in judgment, and enabling young people, sometimes as young as third or fourth grade, to act and communicate with less and less restraint. A mistake made with an app’s anonymity feature can be hurtful or humiliating.

Continue reading

Building Habits of Privacy Into the Conversation & the Curriculum

21st Century Vocabulary Words — Privacy

21st Century Vocabulary Words — Privacy

Young people confuse privacy with safety.

While most kids carefully follow the rules that parents and teachers set out — no names, addresses, telephone numbers, or other personal information — when it comes to the big privacy picture, it turns out that many children understand very little about their personal data, how it accumulates, and how it affects privacy. (Check out my privacy links at the end of this post.)

Thus we need an alternate privacy teaching strategy that helps 21st Century kids — all ages really — understand how their digital-world data  accumulates — even when users observe the all-important safety rules.

Bruce Schneier, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, writes about and consults on data and security, and his blog is Schneier on Security. In a 2010 post, A Revised Taxonomy of Social Networking Data, Schneier suggests how to classify data into six personal categories, the data generated as we use social media (and I’ll add other websites and games), and how all this data creates an individual’s digital profile. (Note: profile is another 21st Century vocabulary word).

Continue reading

Digital Kids & Parents Talk About Technology Rules

dig cit 2

Digital Citizenship Principle for Kids

A recent study, about parents, children and the technology rules that families adopt will be a terrific resource for schools and parent groups to share. Most parts of the research paper are fairly easy to read as are two articles, one from the University of Washington and the other from the University of Michigan. The research findings, with an extra focus on children’s expectations, are full of discoveries and observations that schools may want to share, almost word for word, with the parents of digital kids.

Alexis Hiniker and Julie A. Kientz at the University of Washington and Sarita Y. Schoenebeck at the University of Michigan conducted the study about digital life rules that parents make and enforce and the expectations that digital kids and their parents have of one another. A National Science Foundation research grant supported the academic work.

text drive dig cit 3 (1)

Digital Citizenship Principal for Kids

Interestingly, a few years ago I ask my students, after a year of working together, what messages they would give to their parents about the digital world and their parents’ roles. The answers these young people wrote down were so remarkable that I shared the children’s comments in a September 2013 blog post, and I’ve also included some of the posters that my students designed graphic depictions of the digital rules-of-the-road that parents and teachers expect them to uphold.                     Continue reading

A Positive Story for Younger Digital Kids: Meet the Von Awesome Family

THUMBNAIL_IMAGEAs parents and educators, we quickly come to understand how stories help young people learn.

Unfortunately when it comes to digital parenting and digital citizenship, we do not have many positive children’s stories — the kind you can sit down and read with a child. We know what we want children to learn as they grow-up and use more and more digital devices in a connected world. We are also gradually coming to understand that citizenship and digital citizenship are one and the same.

We need lots more stories that illustrate the way digital life should be lived — stories that we can share with 21st Century children when they are young.

Continue reading

Connected World Coaching for Digital Natives? Read Connecting Wisely

3002_01021048If you teach or think a lot about digital citizenship, take a few minutes to get acquainted with Connecting Wisely in the Digital Age. This new book is simple yet powerful, with content and context for adults who seek to support and mentor 21st Century digital kids. The goal is to help children develop a deeper understanding about the responsibilities that accompany their connected lives.

Authors Devorah Heitner, PhD, and Karen Jacobson, MAbase their book on a singular premise — that the 21 activities introduced in their book, when facilitated by imaginative adults, will make a positive difference in kids’ daily online lives. With its flexibility and its focus on adults as connected world coaches and mentors (not lecturers), Connecting Wisely stands head and shoulders above many other curricula in this category.                 Continue reading

Needed: Ongoing Social Media Conversations About Image Sharing

using smartponesIf your children are using or begging to use  InstagramSnapchat, Vineor the many other apps on their digital devices that share media, it’s time to get serious about conversations on social media and image sharing. Moreover, many other digital device apps exist or suddenly appear that also encourage sharing. (Check out my post that demonstrates just how apps multiply and catch on with kids.)

Sharing apps make users, especially young people, feel like they can have and keep secrets with their friends. Children, and adults, too, like the apps because they claim to offer a modicum privacy and because any media that they share will self-destruct within a few seconds. Voilà – it’s disappeared!

Continue reading