This post is brought to you by Digital Citizenship Conference sponsor, Bridg-it. We sat down with Jeff Ervine who has years of experience in bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and social justice, to talk about topics we’ll be discussing at the Digital Citizenship Conference. The conference will be a rich environment for parents and educators to openly discuss tactics for keeping kids safe online and on social media. Join 100+ educators and parents on April 21, 2017 in Los Angeles at the Digital Citizenship Conference.
Not too many years ago you had to be a politician, athlete or celebrity in order to be picked up by the news media and thus be thrust into the “public eye”. Prior to the digital communication revolution, the news media would fact check a story to make sure it was true and that the information came from trusted sources. It used to be that if you were not a politician, athlete or celebrity, you could control and maintain your privacy and when you were defamed you could find justice in the law. Before it was difficult to defame another individual but that all changed with the creation of the smartphone and the rise of social media.
A smartphone is the combination of 4 powerful functions:
- A telephone
- An internet (social media) connection
- SMS (Texting) capability
- A Camera/Video Camera
These two technologies–smartphones and social media–have effectively merged to become the dominant form of communication and expression for most of the world.
What are digital identity threats and why are they important for parents to understand?
Digital identity threats create permanent, explicit prejudice that defames and reduces one’s future opportunities.
We define identity threats as any negative or threatening portrayal of you or your child, that can be easily seen by members of your community or anyone who wants to learn more about you. Digital identity threats are primarily words and pictures, true or not, that encourage withdrawal from any community with which an individual associates. Digital identity threats create permanent, explicit prejudice that defames and reduces one’s future opportunities. Social media has made identity threat a part of all of our daily lives.
How can parents keep their kids safe from digital identity threats?
The internet is full of passive activity, constant one-directional communication, and too many unknown participants.
Those who grew up in the pre-internet, pre-social media world did not have to deal with digital identity threats. Before social media, students did not post and did not constantly broadcast their thoughts and images. Students did not become addicted to the telephone as the primary means for talking to friends. Before the internet, students played in their own back yards where their parents, friends, and neighbors could easily guide them and keep them out of harm’s way. The social network consisted of those friends with whom students saw and engaged with “face to face” on a daily basis.
Today student’s backyard is the internet itself, which is constantly changing and extremely hard for parents to manage. The internet is full of passive activity, constant one-directional communication, and too many unknown participants. It is a backyard where permanent, debilitating events happen.
Leverage technology to create safer environments
Parents must make sufficient time to support and engage children.
Smartphones and social media are obviously not going to go away. Parents must learn to leverage smartphones and social media to create safer, stronger, and more secure communities for our youth. Encourage students to use technology for what is it good for, saving time and crunching data. Improving culture and helping a child grow and mature socially is always an interdependent process.
How children learn, both academically and socially, is the same as it always has been. Parents must make sufficient time to support and engage children. Socially engaging group activities and one-on-one play has been proven to be a necessary ingredient in a young person’s social and emotional development. Use today’s social technology as a tool to source (sort) and deliver traditional activities that promote community engagement and individual growth.