Cyber Safety and Digital Citizenship in the Classroom

It scares me that Google tracks my location, Facebook knows what I like, and that my contact information is all over this blog. However, I am conflicted because I also know the importance of creating a digital citizenship. I also find most of these tools either entertaining (Facebook) or useful (GPS). It is like I have an angel and a devil on either shoulder – one with the voice of my elders saying “be cyber safe… be careful of what you post… don’t post when you leave for a trip or you will get robbed” and the other voice saying “people got stalked before internet ages… anyone can find my information out if they want… I can’t control what others post so I might as well post and take some control back… use it as a tool to collaborate… having an online identity makes you more employable.” This war always wages.

What are your thoughts on digital citizenship and cyber safety? Do you think cyber safety has a place in our teachings or is the sole purpose to terrify children? What things do you do/should I do to be cyber safe?

I recently read an article called “10 Dangerous Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About.”  I think the information applies to educators, too! This article discusses Tinder, Snapchat, Blendr, Kik Messenger, Whisper, Ask.fm, Yik Yak, Poof, Omegle, and Down. After realizing I am not “with the times” and only know about a couple of these applications I read the rather convincing problems with each app. For instance, Snapchat is described as the #1 sexting app and the problem is that these supposed temporary pictures can be screenshotted and uploaded to various places on the internet. I would not want that for any of my students and I can see why this app could be detrimental at such an impressionable age, where fitting in is central and self -confidence isn’t always fully developed. However, to play devil’s advocate, despite my own desire to just listen to this and wrap my students in feathers and bubble wrap, is it worth banning? Doesn’t that make it more desirable for kids? There are definitely a few of these application that, based on their descriptions, I would ban and/or discourage. But is there a way to get kids to use some of these appropriately? Would it not be more beneficial to have discussions about these issues than to just ban it altogether? The internet/technology is not stopping so maybe if we focus our attention on appropriate use, self-respect, and the serious talks that should occur, we won’t have to waste our time trying to figure out the new thing to ban each month? Maybe it is about appropriate use vs. what to use? Let me know what you think.. I could go either way on this topic!