Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Am I fighting an winless battle?

I am working on a community presentation on Digital Citizenship. Well, it was on Digital Citizenship. It has lately taken a turn to focus more on a few areas of Digital Citizenship; law, responsibility & respect, and consequences.

There is a serious concern in my community, unlikely a unique concern, of the cyber-bullying and general lack of respect being displayed primarily by some of the youth in our community. My administration often talks to me or asks for help regarding issues they are forced to deal with that are beginning, exploited and publicized through social networking. This gives them a "Facebook is the devil" taste in their mouths.

Obviously I am not saying Facebook is the problem. The lack of knowledge, maturity, respect and responsibility displayed by some students and parents is the problem. I doubt the previous sentence is held to a time restraint.

I do recall a very wise former principal who said a very similar statement, shortly after a parent confrontation in my internship. This was 10 years ago, before social networking existed. I find myself constantly defending Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, laptops, and on.

I truly believe the issues we see in my school are started, escalated and publicized primarily because of; a lack of education in parents, a lack of communication on digital citizenship between parents and children, a lack of supervision and in some cases, a lack of role modeling for the child. If I am correct, than the debates I am constantly in are worth it.

Am I right?

Is there more to this than basic parenting education and responsibility?

How does one get this type of message effectively out to the community?

Do other communities have similar issues? Feelings?


DDS said...

There is indeed more to it than the traditional F2F parenting skills. I have been teaching Digital Citizenship (in the beginning we called it Internet Safety) for years, and have a book called VIRTUAL PARENTING which is available at Amazon, written at the request of those who've heard me speak at local parenting groups to national conferences. My second book, UNDERSTANDING I-KIDS: A WORKBOOK FOR GROWNUPS, speaks specifically to eight elements of citizenship and how they relate to the Digital Society. ISTE also has an excellent book called Digital Citizenship. I do not believe we are fighting a winless battle, but I certainly do feel like Sisyphus at times! Keep plugging (pun intended). Visit my blog at

Anonymous said...

I think clearly the problem is not facebook. And I hate facebook. The unfortunate thing is that kids are kids, they just have more mediums to pursue now adays to be kids, whether its cyber bullieing or physical I see no difference. Every school every where likely has this issue whether in cyberspace or not. As far as trying to solve the problem you will never get rid of it. The solution tends to be a combination of things. But I ask you this, how does your school deal with school yeard bullieing?
I think the first issue has to be constant monitoring of the networks and problem areas. If this is done kids will feel they can get away with less. The problem is that this is a full time job so many people have to be envolved. If the kids feel they will get caught and suffer some sort of consequence the amount of bullying will decline. My other suggestion would be a phsycological approach. I am not sure exactly what but I know my daughters school makes kids confront others and appologize and then partake in an after school supervised activity together. Depending on the age of the student certain phsycological mesures will work better and give them a better concept of how society should work. The key is to remember the children are growing and can be shaped with the right tools.
With that said if I get some time I will further research and see if I can come up with any successful solutions.
As for parenting and community education, Maybe you should change your focus from blogging to the local news paper. Write an anonymouse column with other teachers where you address the problems and offer solutions.

Eldon said...

Doris, thank you so much for your advice. I have looked at your site and am very impressed. The most difficult part of my position is knowing my role. I fit somewhere between teacher-of-student and facilitator-of-parenting in the technological aspect. Good news is, our community meeting showed me that there is interest in parents to learn and teach their children digital citizenship.

M - Couldn't agree more with the fact that Facebook not being the problem. As I mentioned numerous times in my community meeting last night, when Facebook falls by the wayside, something new will replace it. The problem is citizenship. Students need to understand that respect, responsibility and safety are what they need to practice at ALL times in ALL places. Kindergartens on the playground on held to the same citizenship that adults at work are and high school students in the hallway.

I do like the change of focus from blogging to newspaper, however, as you can tell, I am not consistent.

As far as the style of discipline, I leave that to the big guns. If one day I go into administration, then I will discipline in the ways I feel are suitable for the situation. I like the concept of a "community service" punishment, IF it is done properly.