What It Means to Use Technology Appropriately and Responsibly

As technology is constantly changing, so are the concerns surrounding digital citizenship. 

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As a prime example of the constant flux of technology and its surrounding concerns, the American Pediatrics Association is updating its self-proclaimed “outdated” screen time recommendations to allow kids and teens more online use. The change prompts us all to rethink what it means to use technology appropriately and responsibly—a standard otherwise known as digital citizenship.

In "#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens," a special report from CNN, the public was provided with an in-depth look at the digital lives of American tweens. The subjects’ heavy social media and tech use can serve as a push for parents to be more active in their kids’ lives, but it shouldn’t serve as a scare tactic to push teens away from social media.

Luckily, there are some amazing resources out there to help parents, teachers, and teens achieve tech balance.

For example, the folks at Common Sense Media just launched #HaveTheTalk, a social media campaign devoted to teaching kids of all ages how to navigate the Internet safely and ethically. The site is full of free, ready-to-use resources and is constantly updated to maintain relevance in the ever-changing digital landscape.

In addition to lesson plans, videos, and tips for weaving digital citizenship into any class, the organization also offers a free certification program that allows any passionate educators to become digital citizenship gurus at their schools. There’s also a primer to help parents breach the tech discussion, as well as family media agreements, and an interactive digital passport that guides kids through the process of learning digital literacy and more.

When used properly, the Internet and social media can bring people together, help kids find their identity, and advocate for big social change, yet it tends to be viewed in a negative light. Reframe to the positive, and remind kids of the amazing ways their peers are using social media for good.  

Just this week, my eighth grade class helped me participate in the #KindClassroom Twiter chat for Bullying Prevention Month. Seeing their answers pop up on screen along with instant, upbeat feedback from strangers halfway across the world inspired the kids and created a buzz in the classroom that I haven’t seen in a while. With so much coverage of social media blunders and feuds, it was nice for my students to see that their digital footprint can be a positive force, as well.