Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Digital Citzenship CAN and SHOULD be taught to young kids

My son is going to be in third grade this fall and he has more online awareness than I had at any time in my life growing up as a kid and teenager.

Like many other kids, he is addicted and loves Minecraft. He does things so quickly and rapidly that blow me away and most times do not make sense to my eyes.

One thing we have done as parents is instill a sense of trust with him. We have laid out guidelines and have open communications about what is acceptable and not acceptable. We then cross our fingers that he listens.

He is a typical boy. He pouts. He does not like chores. He loves outdoors. Etc. He is just your regular run of the mill boy.

And he gets the gold star in digital citizenship.

He plays on the JoKaydia server which is ran by an amazing educator and person who I have so much respect for. We don't peer over his shoulder, but ask that he remains open and honest. He has done wonderfully talking about issues. It leads to some great conversations not only about digital citizenship, but making proper decisions in life and treatment of others.

The other week I was out of town and I had to discuss with him over the phone about why he cannot play Halo or Modern Warfare while his other friends get to play. This is tough and puts him in a tough situation as he cannot play with his friends when they play these games. I often wonder if we are losing him to the peer pressure and possibly open communication.

Then I was reminded that he is a rock star. We received an email about him dealing with a situation on the Minecraft server.

HI ********,

I read the server logs of the incident you had with ******** in the mines today and I wanted to let you know that he has been banned for using swear words (cussing) and being rude to you. I'm sorry you had to experience that situation and I wanted to let you know that I'm very proud of you for handling it so well. You clearly reminded him to follow the rules and not use bad words, and you logged out when he wouldn't stop - which was exactly the right way to handle things.

We take bad behavior including rudeness like that very seriously, and ******* account will stay banned for at least 2 weeks and we will discuss the problem with him and his parents before he is allowed to come back.

I was very proud as a parent. My 8 year old son handled a situation completely on his own and handled it perfectly without any guidance from us as parents. This also showcases how amazing some people are like Jo Kaydia who help make learning possible in safe environments. Additionally, this shows how fluent kids are today with the internet and the digital landscape.

On a higher level this goes back to an idea I shared months ago. Digital citizenship needs to be taught starting in kindergarten. Kids are networking online younger and younger and need to learn how to deal with issues. They need to be taught how to behave and what to do when others choose not to behave properly. They can handle it. The earlier they hear the message and more frequent they hear the message, the more positive their digital footprint will develop. They live in a day and age where they can no longer erase their actions. All they do is recorded. We must provide the kids with the tools and mindset to handle these powerful tools and games in the correct manner.

Part of our jobs in schools is to help develop these discussions and awareness. Yes, parents play a pivotal role as well, but not all parents are aware of these issues and don't know how to go about it. This incident is another reminder of the obligations we have to our youth.

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