Citizenship: Being a Member of a Larger Community

Over the last five weeks #DCMOOC has allowed us to connect with a variety of leaders in the field of Digital Citizenship. This past week I was able to catch the Media Smarts Overview w/ Matthew Johnson

According to Matthew Johnson of MediaSmarts, a Canadian not-for-profit organization for digital and media literacy, the latest research with teens around digital citizenship indicate that scare techniques do not inspire teens to engage in positive digital citizenship… in fact it may even promote more negative behaviors.

How do we encourage positive online behaviors?

We need to believe that students are capable of positive online behaviors.

Our conversations around citizenship need to evolve.

We need to focus on responsibility towards others, emotional regulation and teaching empathy.

Perhaps a one way to do this is to change the language we use. Terms like cyber bullying are often overused by the media. The result is a word that becomes cliché and potentially loses its impact.…. Asking students if they have ever witnessed or experienced any type of mean and cruel behavior is more specific than using the generic term cyber bullying. This more specific question encourages students to reflect back on past experience through the lense of empathy.

Another way to increase positive digital citizenship is to social norm positive online behavior. Students like to be a “part” of the crowd. If students believe that it is normal to behave negatively online they will conform with negative behavior. Therefore it is important that parents and educators take the time to point out the quality and frequency of positive youth online interactions as a form of positive peer pressure. There are many positive online communities and movements such as WE DAY which provide students with opportunities to connect with others while participating as active global citizens.

Finally lets celebrate.

Students are doing amazing things online. Just this week I was looking for information on the topic of Fair-trade to share with my junior high English classes in Japan. The majority of the work I found, which was presented at a language level my ESL students could use, were public service announcements, such as this one, produced by other junior high students from around the world.

The result- ten classes of Japanese grade nine students were not only learning English, but also reflecting on global citizenship issues. The biggest draw for the students was the realization that students in other countries were thinking about these things too.

Positive digital citizenship is about connecting, caring and sharing. It involves open dialogues, suggestions and ideas. I would love to hear how you are encouraging positive digital behavior?