No words console a family when a child dies, especially a loss caused by cruel and bigoted peers who don’t comprehend digital world distinctions between right and terribly wrong. A much-loved boy, a gifted musician, a young man who made others smile and relax with beautiful music — and whose sexual identity was no one’s business but his own, even in the confusing milieu of a freshman college dorm — is dead.
For the rest of us — parents, teachers, religious leaders, and other adults — much can be said. Tyler Clementi’s suicide dramatically illustrates, yet again, the youth disconnect between privacy as we knew it in the past and the increasingly few layers that protect us today. With no clear definition of privacy, children, adolescents, and even young adults perceive few behavior boundaries –those lines in the sand that delineate the ethical from the unethical, the fun from the vicious. How many more children do we have to lose?
Whatever can we do?
Continue reading “The Tragedy of Tyler Clementi”
In an age of instant cut and paste, copying the words or ideas of others is easy, so today many students ignore the need to credit sources. According to an August 1, 2010, New York Times article, Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age, many digital natives have difficulty understanding the concepts of attribution, intellectual property, and copyright. Moreover, the article points out that, with so much public conversation and criticism about Wikipedia, many young writers believe that crediting the online encyclopedia is unnecessary.
The Times article is a helpful back-to-school read, because it clarifies a critical issue confronting students — one that affects the quality of their work. By addressing the need to cite sources and maintain personal integrity, parents provide solid support for their children, and they help children avoid problems that arise when Internet sources in assignments without attribution. Family conversations need to occur early and often, building a child’s respect for digital citizenship.
Continue reading “Back-to-School Digital Reading Assignment, #2: Plagiarism”
Digital media manipulators use and modify information in any way necessary to support their views. The truth, context, intention, and even a person’s reputation are irrelevant, as Mrs. Shirley Sherrod discovered this week. What do children learn during these media spectacles?
While it’s tempting to focus on the unprincipled young-adult blogger who posted the edited, out-of-context video, the more compelling issue is how it’s increasingly acceptable to use digital media to embarrass and publicly humiliate others. Although the victim can be in the national news, more often it’s a child on the other side of a classroom. Thus the task of initiating conversations to help children understand ethical digital behavior takes on greater urgency.
These questions aim to help a parent get started. Continue reading “Eight Questions to Ask When Media is Manipulated”