Last week (October 21st – 25th) was Digital Citizenship Week– a reminder to everyone including teachers, parents, and kids of the importance of digital citizenship education. Many public schools teach basic digital citizenship concepts to kids as young as kindergarten. It doesn’t seem to be enough. We often hear of tragic news stories such as the one about 12 year old Rebecca Sedwick , who was cyber bullied into committing suicide last month. Stories such as these drive home the critical need for even more digital citizenship education.
As children’s ministry leaders, Bible teachers, and parents we should be instilling and modeling appropriate technology behavior with kids and teenagers every opportunity we get. Schools can’t do it alone.
Digital citizenship does not end with social media. It also includes digital etiquette, the law in relation to digital access, digital literacy, online commerce, internet safety, and digital rights and responsibilities.
Below is what I believe are some of the top digital citizenship resources currently available on the web. As a children’s ministry leader or teacher, I encourage you to take a few minutes to review these web sites and talk about these concepts with a child or teenager as the opportunity arises.
As a parent, I encourage you to educate yourself on strategies you can use with your own kids. God wants us to do everything we can to keep our children safe which will allow them to become responsible, respectful digital citizens.
- iKeepsafe — http://www.ikeepsafe.org (non-profit web site with lots of resources for educators, parents, and kids; includes Faux Paw the Techno Cat videos)
- Commonsense Media — http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/digital-citizenship. Includes useful common sense strategies to use with kids and YouTube videos such as “A Common Sense Approach to Internet Safety” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUyQI0USNSY . Also includes instructions on how to set parental controls on your iPhone at http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/how-set-parental-controls-iphone.
- Cyberwise — http://www.cyberwise.org/Digital-Citizenship-Hub.html#.Um277VCkqPy (digital citizenship online games, flashcards, and curriculum)
- Family Online Safety Institute – http://www.fosi.org/images/stories/resources/family-online-safety-contract.pdf (Family Online Safety Contract for Parents and Kids)
Photo: Thomas Galvez (http://www.flickr.com/photos/togawanderings/6988486459/)