Opening Up Conversation About Life Online

Digital Citizenship Week wrapped up last week as educators and schools around the world renewed their focus to help students become good citizens in the digital age. As we’re learning just how prolific devices are in our student’s lives, the separation between citizenship and digital citizenship is fading. A recent survey from Common Sense Media found that 89% of teens have their own smartphones and that they’re experiences with using them are generally positive.

As advocates for digital citizenship we encourage you to find ways to help your students develop a healthy relationship with technology and wield their devices to make a positive impact in their world. Here’s a few ideas that you might consider using with your learners to open up conversation about life online.

  • Challenge your students to make famous person Instagram posts. Think “If Abraham Lincoln had Instagram”. What hashtags would he use? Who would he be friends with? What would he say? What norms of digital citizenship would he exemplify or break?
  • Analyze why (mathematically) it’s important to create a strong password. Each additional character in a password is 95 times harder to crack. An 8 digit password has 95^8 possible combinations while a 6 digit password has 95^6 possible combinations. See here for more ideas. Take it further by seeing what students think about this popular xkcd comic about passwords or this article encouraging passphrases over passwords.
  • Discuss “digital equity” and why it is a major topic around the world. What does digital equity look like in your area? Nationally, check out the efforts of InternetEssentials. Internationally, check out Google’s Project Loon. Hold a design challenge to see how your students would solve the issue of Digital Equity in their neighborhood.
  • Craft short stories retelling a classic story in modern times. How would the internet impact their main characters? How might the internet empower Romeo and Juliet to have an alternate ending? What adversity might Odysseus face in his adventures with new technology?
  • Encourage students to experiment to decrease their screen time this week and document their experience in a daily journal. Have them describe their energy levels, health, relationships.

As always, don’t hesitate to let us know how we can support you and your students as you navigate the ever changing impact of technology in our lives.