5 digital citizenship skills that actually make students kinder
17th May 2017
Being a good digital citizen, like any skill, takes practice — and that means practicing positive habits as well as avoiding negative or dangerous online behaviors. Some of those skills, such as learning to be culturally sensitive or to help others online instead of standing by in silence, can be tricky to put into action. Here are five incredible ideas and digital citizenship skills that boost kids’ kindness:
1. Teach the value of being a ‘global citizen’. Research shows that when kids are skilled at valuing cultural differences they are less likely to see others as ‘foreign’, which can lead to bullying. Asian Americans, for example, reported significant discrimination and high levels of peer victimization in a recent University of Maryland study. Research scientists hypothesize that “individuals ‘like’ others that are perceived to be similar to themselves” and that a difference in language, size or appearance “predicts that less acculturated individuals may encounter more discrimination.” One activity that helps students determine if they are global citizens is discussing their varied interests. If a child is passionate about the environment, you might ask: what connection do you have to protecting earth? For kids who have lived in several places or have family in different parts of the world, ask: What do you consider to be your home? Others may connect to cultures through music or art. The goal is to find common interests and for students to see themselves as interconnected. The more we foster curiosity about other cultures, the easier it is to treat different people with respect and solidarity, all key to being a good digital citizens. Tanja Schulze’s TedxBMS talk discusses this exact concept here.
2. Upgrade your digital safety skill-set. Part of being a good digital citizen is knowing how to use privacy settings, remembering not to accept friend requests or offers from strangers, not sharing passwords with friends, and knowing how to quickly ask for help if a situation feels wrong. Parents should review the settings on their own devices and their child’s, paying careful attention to any new apps kids may have downloaded, since they often change their privacy policies and require security updates. Impero’s bullying and trolling library can help teachers identify terms and acronyms that a student who is being harassed may use in response to a perpetrator. Impero’s keyword libraries are developed in partnership with a number of charities and specialist organizations, providing definitions relating to a broad range of safeguarding issues. Library categories include bullying and trolling, eating disorders, grooming, race and religious hatred, among others.
3. Confidence can be the greatest strength for digital citizens. As a general rule, the more confidence a child has, the more skilled they will be at asking for help. Many bullying incidents begin at school. Impero Education Pro includes an anonymous reporting tool, called Confide, that enables a student to safely report a concern about themselves or a peer with the option to remain anonymous. In addition, using confide, a student can submit their report to a specific staff member they trust. This is hugely important as reports of cyberbullying, sexting and grooming increase, particularly among young girls, according to recent report by Cyberbullying Research Center.
4. Mindfulness builds kindness, a skill all digital citizens need in abundance. It may seem like a stretch but teaching meditation, mindfulness and relaxation techniques can actually promote kindness and decrease tension in classrooms. Preliminary studies on yoga support the idea that a regular practice can help students manage stress, mood and ability to self-regulate.
5. Start a positive digital citizenship project at your school. Not sure where to start or what digital citizenship skill to focus on? Discover more than 30 examples of kids using the internet to promote positivity, inclusiveness and education at digcitutah.com. Here, you’ll find examples of digital citizenship changemakers from around the country. As students add to their digital “skillset” they become more than digital citizens… they take their first big steps to becoming digital leaders, who can begin teaching digital citizenship to their younger peers.
how Impero Education Pro helps schools to promote good digital citizenship skills
Impero Education Pro’s integrated online safety and classroom management features are designed around a best practice approach to digital citizenship. Based on a clear process, we first work with our internet safety partners to research the latest online safety trends and generate new, or add to existing, keyword libraries. Next, Impero Education Pro monitors online activity and captures any potential at-risk behavior, logging this as a screenshot or video clip. This empowers school staff to mentor students, with the ability to intervene and offer counter-narratives before and incident escalates. Finally, this enables schools to create good digital citizens, both inside the school environment and beyond. View this process in our handy digital citizenship infographic.