One of the most common questions I get asked by schools, is along the lines of how can we teach “Cyber-Safety?”
Leaving aside the fact I’m not keen on the use of the work cyber as whilst it may have suited our needs a decade ago, nowadays it’s pretty much irrelevant.
Why do I say irrelevant? Because the inclusion of the word cyber indicates that somehow these actions are separate from the rest of a person’s life. Take cyberbullying for example… the ramifications are not confined to cyberspace, they are very – for want of a better word – real.
OK, I didn’t really leave that aside did I?
Anyway, my biggest issue with teaching – let’s call it Digital Citizenship – instead, is that we rarely listen to what the kids actually want or need to know about or do.
Take for example a group of Yr 9 students I was working with recently, who all said they were worried about their privacy online, but their parents didn’t know how to address it, and their school didn’t want to teach it. The students said they felt that the response from the adults was, if you’re worried about it don’t use it. The adults in their lives didn’t understand that this wasn’t an option. They also felt they couldn’t report any instance of bullying or inappropriate stuff (sexting etc.) because that would just result in them losing access to their phones or laptops.
I’ve written before about the way Digital Citizenship, and in particular the use of Social Media is taught in school.
If we taught kids to drive a car the same way we teach them to use social media it would look something like this:
1. Driving lessons would only be taught by adults with little or no experience of driving.
2. Driving lessons would never take place in a car.
3. Driving lessons would only focus on the dangers of driving and what not to do
Of course we wouldn’t tolerate this, but this is often the approach taken in schools and the community.
If it’s a problem, increase the firewall or ban it. How long will it take for us to realise this approach is failing out kids.
They want to be responsible digital citizens, but we don’t hear that. We just assume they’re up to no good.
No one’s helping in ways they understand, or in ways that genuinely empower them.
If you are interested in exploring a more proactive approach to digital citizenship and/or learning in your school, then I would highly recommend getting in touch with Pip Cleaves at Design | Learn | Empower or Nick Jackson at Digital Leaders Australia – and no, I don’t receive a commission, I just really respect their work, and their ability to hear the student voice and engage accordingly.
Or if you just want to learn a little more about what kids are up to these days you could check out this site from ACMA, and yes, I am aware they use the word Cyber….