Helping students find balance and direction in the online world

Technology is becoming increasingly integrated into our daily lives.

Technology is becoming increasingly integrated into our daily lives. This makes the concept of “digital citizenship” more and more important. Digital citizenship is essentially a term referring to the proper use of technology along with appropriate behaviour when online.

Educational communities are greatly impacted by the use of technology and the need for appropriate online behaviour. Digital citizenship is important for all those involved in the education of students – parents, staff and school administrators. We must work closely together to ensure that technology is used responsibly to enhance the learning journey of our students. The knowledge gained in this reliable manner will enrich our school communities and assist our students to socialize properly and grow as future citizens.

The latest Canadian Internet Use Survey results found that nearly 80 per cent of Canadian households enjoyed Internet access and more than half of them made use of more than one kind of device, equipment or gadget to go online. Alberta residents reported the second-highest usage in the country, and not surprisingly, one-third of online users were under 35 years of age and went online with a wireless handheld device. That tells us that today’s students have the access and technology at their fingertips to access online content on demand whenever they want it. We need to recognize that the online and ‘unplugged’ lives of our children are no longer easily separated as they may have been for previous generations.

We need to encourage young people to treat others with respect in the face of online anonymity; view online theft of licensed content as illegal as any other type of theft; maintain balance in their lives between the time they spend on both online and offline activities; and to be very aware of not revealing personal information to people they do not know.

There are many excellent resources available to help educators and parents understand and support this digital generation. MediaSmarts, a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization for digital and media literacy, has an interactive online resource called “Parenting the Digital Generation” that can be found at http://mediasmarts.ca/tutorial/parenting-digital-generation. Alberta Education also offers a variety of materials for parents, teens and younger children that can be found at http://humanservices.alberta.ca/abuse-bullying/14838.html

Today’s technology has given our children access to unprecedented resources and potentially significant power and our role is to listen, guide and learn from them as we explore this amazing resource together.

Maria Lentz maria.lentz@starcatholic.ab.ca is the Ponoka trustee on the STAR Catholic Schools Division Board. Learn more at www.starcatholic.ab.ca