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Growing Up Digital: Tips for Digital Citizenship

This year in middle school, students at Evansville Day School are ushering in a new era. They are bringing their own devices to school and have the opportunity to use them in class to enhance their learning process. The introduction of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program in our middle school is coordinated with our Digital Citizenship initiative. Technology provides incredible opportunities for young people to learn, connect, create and collaborate in ways never before imagined. But with great power comes great responsibility, and kids need to be empowered to use technology safely, responsibly and effectively to avoid pitfalls. We started our Digital Citizenship initiative by taking a look at social media and its 24 hours a day, 7 days a week impact on teen culture.  All of our Digital Citizenship units look at digital media from the teen perspective.

Although schools can help teach good digital citizenship, there is still a need for guidance and reinforcement at home. As parents, it’s natural to want to keep your children safe in every facet of development.  From learning to cross the road, to riding a bike or swimming, parents teach, guide, and support their children. It is no different when navigating the online world.

The first concept to understand is that the online world is very much part of young people’s world today. They are “growing up digital”, and technology is embedded in every aspect of their lives.

The truth is, most young people today use social media services as tools for catching up, making plans, and socializing. They have become a normal part of their day-to-day activities; not engaging in them is no longer socially viable. Much like riding a bike, it is essential that parents are involved in helping navigate in this new environment.

The best online safety strategy, regardless of the age of the user or the technology involved, is communication. Talk with your child and to engage with his or her  use of the Internet. Keep the lines of communication about internet use open. Remember, the chances of your child sharing their online experiences with you will be greatly reduced if they think that telling you about a problem will result in being banned from using the Internet!

In order to help guide your child to use the Internet responsibly, it is important to understand how your child uses the Internet. Learn what your child likes to do online. Ask your child to show you which apps and websites they use and what they do there. You can even join the sites they like and become familiar with their use and functions. Having knowledge of a site’s Privacy Policy and an understanding of its Reporting or Blocking features will allow you to educate your child about them.

The bottom line for parents is that it is important that you are involved and aware of your child’s digital life as they move through this new and sometimes complicated digital world.



Kelly Ballard

Technology Instructor