Who Tells Our Story?

This week we have been asked to put our reflections on the idea of digital citizenship. Since the beginning of this course, I have been reflecting on my journey through social media and setting our students up for success moving forward. On more than one occasion, I shared that it was not until second-year university when it finally clicked that my digital identity could shape my first impression. At that point, I tightened up my security settings and did a “scrub” of all the things that I no longer wanted to be associated with my image moving forward.

George Bernard Shaw is quoted saying, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” With that quote in mind, the person we are creating both physically and digitally must be the ones that we are proud of. As professionals who were able to grow up with and make mistakes, we have been fortunate. Many of my errors have been erased, and although they are most likely on some server somewhere, they are not haunting me when you type my name into Google. Dalton said it best when he said, “There were no such things as screenshots when we grew up – we could delete posts without someone having their own copy of it.”

As an educator aware of digital citizenship and digital literacy, I take it as an obligation to teach and learn with others who don’t understand the ramifications of their actions online. This does not always include students. Many adults are unfamiliar with the terms of their online impact as well. In the education sector, I think of myself as fortunate that I have the ability to reach the students/our future generations and their parents. I hope that I will spark some conversation or thought when it comes to how they want to present themselves online.

When I was in university and was first becoming aware of the impact that my Facebook or Twitter could have on the future, I thought it was wise to take some of my experiences and friends to make a presentation to share with students. I worked it into health and career. We talked about future goals and aspirations. I presented them with a scenario where they were a boss, and they had a couple of suitable applicants, but when you did an internet search, a particular picture or post showed up. I then asked them to respond to the three applicants they hadn’t met about how they felt about their chances of working for them. After the presentation, I said that these were all pulled off my personal Facebook wall from friends or strangers that I had friended over time. We then talked about security settings and how we wanted to be presented when we put our name in for that dream job. The shocking part was the next few days when the students came back to tell me how they did not have any security on their accounts until that day.

I’m left with the question: How do we convince the younger generations how important it will be to their future success to maintain a certain level of maturity online?
–> We educate, and we hope that the message gets across to a few of them and that they can make those distinctions for themselves?
–> We scare them with a presentation of what will happen to them if they are viewed negatively online?
–> We educate teachers, parents, and students so that they are getting consistent messaging and influence all around them when it comes to digital citizenship?

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog. I hope you are having a great week! I’d love to hear your thoughts below; please leave a comment.

4 thoughts on “Who Tells Our Story?

  1. I’m sure glad that you didn’t have to “scrub” your old email account, but we’ll leave that for our future podcast listeners. Like you said setting kiddos up to understanding the importance of DC is so key, yet such an undervalued concept in the curriculum and schools. We know it matters, we know it’s out there, and we know that there is a lot of ugly out there, yet why aren’t we doing more as a unified body of education to do better? It seems like such an easy fix, yet so hard to make those necessary changes.

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  2. Thanks for the shout-out! Haha.
    When we talk about drugs and alcohol, many students still dabble with them even with lots of education, scare tactics, etc. I think some students just need to learn the hard way too. That may be an unpopular opinion though. Especially when we look at online bullying, and that “learning the hard way” could be causing someone else to commit bodily harm or worse. I like your third point about having parents, teachers, and students consuming the same message – as goes for anything in education, they say it takes a village to raise children, so digital citizenship and identity should be no different. Great post Durston!

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    • Great point about kids needing to learn some things ‘the hard way,’ Dalton! I think it depends on the kind of person you are. For me, I have always been a rule follower, so scare tactics were enough to keep me out of many kinds of trouble. I think this approach sometimes has a reverse psychology effect, though, and if we present something that kids ‘shouldn’t do’, they will want to do it more. I know parents that use a more open approach with alcohol; they allow their child to try it under adult supervision, because they prefer that to the alternative of their child going behind their back and trying it without them knowing. I think this all boils down to honest communication and trusting relationships from both parties. I think the same thing can happen with tech: we can help kids learn to create their digital identity with adult assistance, rather than painting it as something taboo that needs to be hidden from adults.

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  3. I love your blog post title; Who Tells Our Story? This is such a new realm for me; however, I feel more confident as I continue this class. I have not erased some of the content previously that I posted before this class; however, I am very cautious about posting at this point. You pose important questions around how to share the significance of students’ identity online as they mature. The breakdown you shared, we educate and we scare, resonated with me as up until now I think I was grounded by fear. I am definitely transitioning out of that mindset as I apply some of my learnings from this class to my personal life, family life, and school life. Thanks for sharing!

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