Social Media Ed, Sex Ed, & Digital Responsibility

So having Library Journal use a version of this quote above in the Movers & Shakers article and having had my beloved School Library blog blocked this week has made me super sensitive to the challenges & responsibilities we have teaching our kids digital awareness and responsibility.
People, teaching Digital Ed is not OPTIONAL. It's not a frill, and it's not about blocking & filtering it's all about teaching kids ethics & then trusting them to be responsible. According to a recent study & Mashable:
"About 80% of children between the ages of 0 and 5 who use the Internet in the United States do so on at least a weekly basis, according to a report released Monday from education non-profit organizations Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Sesame Workshop."
So my Sunday mornings are for sipping my favourite Jet Fuel coffee and catching up with my PLN on the Twitters and the afternoon is for blogging. This Sunday the amazing Kathy Kaldenberg or as I follow her on Twitter@scsdmedia posted several excellent articles on social media.
Two articles I'd like to share with you - the first: The Pitfalls and Promises of Social Media and Kids By Tina Barseghian quotes the amazing Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in Bergen County, New Jersey who thinks privacy and cyberbullying issues are a red herring and that:
“Schools aren’t teaching kids to be digitally responsible,” he said. “We can’t fault kids for doing something wrong on Facebook or Twitter because we’re not teaching them. We need to have digital citizenship curriculum in schools.” - Eric Sheninger
Of course I had to comment - This is one of the BEST articles I've ever read about this topic! It puts (more eloquently) what I've been preaching for years! From 1999-2006 I preached privacy, safety, net nanny & stranger danger - now I realize it's their peers that are most likely to harass & bully. I did, however, always say that "The most effective, reliable, Internet Safety Filter is an Involved, Informed, and Aware Parent and an Educated and Ethical Kid." Do I get points for that? Because really? It's now more about Internet Awareness than safety because I truly believe that it is the kids who are already "at risk" in real life who are most at risk in their online life. I also strongly believe that Digital Ed for teens is as crucial as Sex Ed for teens - we know they're gonna do it anyway - better with knowledge, discernment, & ethics. Like you said in the article, we must let kids make mistakes & discover for themselves what it means to be a digital citizen.

The other great article was pointed out by Kathy and was written by CoolCatTeacher herself, Viki Davis: Facebook Friending 101 for Schools I would also add Teachers, Kids, Parents & Principals.

Again, I had to comment: This is a brilliant posting! And though "listing" & the new privacy settings can totally tailor your FB experience as Kari said in her comment, I just don't trust Facebook to change, drop, or totally FAIL their interface. Thus, I have a professional FB page I don't visit much plus I started a community page for my Middle School because I want my kids, parents & the community to be able to find our school wherever they might look. Twitter is my PLN home but yeah...If we mean to teach Facebook we have to understand Facebook. But we don't have to love it. LOL

I'm shamelessly gonna snag Viki's excellent related articles

Slides & Photos by Gwyneth Jones


  1. Thanks for the shout out!

    These issues have really been on mind as I prepare to meet with all our 7th and 8th graders later this week to discuss digital citizenship.

    The fact that this is a stand alone presentation indicates to me that we are probably not integrating our information literacy and technology curriculums as effectively as we might hope. Both plans call for the teaching of social media and ethical use of digital resources to be embedded into the classroom with the classroom teacher modeling and discussing everything from copyright to digital footprints.Each time we have students use the laptops or their cell phones, we have an opportunity to help them learn what is appropriate and safe.

    This is something I need to work hard on and advocate aggressively for. Each adult in our school shares responsibility. It isn't just a tech or library thing.

    And - the parents are our partners. They need to be educated as well. (I had 2 parents show up for a presentation I gave at our middle school Parent Information Meeting in November

    (Just want to give credit to MY PLN for the articles that caught your attention this morning. I subscribe to so many great blogs and follow so many fabulous colleagues on Twitter. Its hard to synthesize all it. I have been using a new tool on my iPad, ZITE, which takes my RSS feed and uses my feedback to learn what kinds of topics relate best to my interests. I'm still using READER for iPad and of course - Twitter. Being able then use these tools to share meaningfully with people like you is so gratifying.)

  2. Thanks for your clear thoughts and wonderful artwork as always. Your sharing is useful to so many of us working through these same issues in our schools.

  3. Right on, Gwyneth! I'm hopeful that the wind is slowly shifting on this important issue. However, until digital citizenship is understood and taught by every teacher in every classroom, teacher-librarians need to keep repeating your message as our mantra. Digital citizenship IS one of the most important life-lessons our students can learn. Thanks for leading the way on this issue. I'm really glad (and feel lucky) to be part of your PLN!

  4. I completely agree with the issues of teaching responsibility. It is really hard, though, to break them of the bad habits they have practiced at home. I have students who as fourth-graders sometimes have convinced parents that they should have Facebook pages. Worse still, I have 4th grade students whose parents don't know they have Facebook pages. I am doing all I can as a media teacher to inform both students and parents, but sometimes I wish I didn't have to un-teach so much.

  5. Love that Eric Sheninger quote - great article. I am fowarding it to my administration today! We have to stop shaking our fingers at kids and start teaching!!

    Great post, Gwyneth!


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