For most of the semester, we have been exploring what it means to be digitally literate and what that means as a teacher. In today’s society, technology is old news, so it’s important for technology to be integrated into the classroom as well, but what happens after we (teachers) and students are digitally literate? Should we only teach them how to master technology? It shouldn’t stop there.If we teach digital literacy to our students, we must also teach them digital citizenship.
Whether we like it or not, students use technology way more outside of the classroom than inside. They are checking a plethora of social media accounts before school, at lunch, in between classes, when their teacher aren’t paying attention, after school, etc. They tweet, share, favorite, like, post way more than their teachers and they realize. With this constant obsession with social media comes negative aspects as well. Teenagers in today’s society are prone to a type of bullying different than any other that came before: cyberbullying. Before the rise of technology, bullies had to vocally insult and their victims. Today, it is much easier to be cruel using social media. These websites also gives people an easy opportunity to witness unkind behavior and take no action.
What does this mean for my classroom? Well, I think if we are integrating technology and social media into the classroom, we should also teach students how to act while they are using it. This can begin as early as students start school, but at this age, students probably aren’t active on social media. By the time they get into my class (middle school or high school), they will most likely be active on multiple social media websites, which makes their knowledge of digital citizenship even more important. It takes little effort to learn almost everything about a person through their social media accounts, and what is posted is almost always permanent. Juan Enriquez talked about the long-lasting nature of social media posts by comparing them to tattoos. Tattoos give a representation of who you are, and social media activity does too. Would students like the electronic tattoos they have given themselves? Do they even realize they have done so?
This brings me to the question: should teachers be friends with their students on Facebook or follow their students on Instagram or Twitter? Katherine Sokolowski, a seventh grade teacher, allows her students to follow her on Instagram, so she can be a positive influence in their lives. I think that is a great idea. There is a lot of negative aspects and dangers in technology and especially social media, and students could use a positive role model on their feed reminding them how to portray themselves on social media.