Beyond “Be Nice Online”

Ways to improve “digital citizenship”

When I started teaching media literacy, it was television-focused. Interesting to think now – 20 years later – my students rarely watch broadcast television on a television set.

Lately most of my workshops for students, teachers and parents have focused less on television and traditional media and more on social media platforms and their effects on us.

While digital citizenship classes perform a necessary service, my advice to administrators is that it’s time to go much deeper than “Be Nice Online”. Why not pivot away from digital citizenship and turn to digital wellness?

What would I add, beyond “be nice online”? Here’s a short list:

  • Terms of Service: What did we agree to?
  • How to identify mis- and disinformation
  • Ways to connect with experts and promote skills
  • Tools to spot fake social media accounts
  • What are algorithms and why are they important?
  • We’re not the customers of these sites & platforms – we’re the product
  • How apps are designed to be addictive, and why
  • Not all social media or screen time is created equal
  • Significance of a strong LinkedIn profile for high schoolers
  • Understand the agency provided by the apps
  • Ways to cultivate coping skills for negative experiences or feelings
  • How to verify photos and YouTube videos
  • What is Section 230, and why is it important?
  • Tips for creating strong passwords
  • What the current research says
  • Who are the “Power Five”, and what power do they actually have?

The stories of our students are going to be told online. Shouldn’t they be the AUTHORS of that story?

Time to turn away from preaching about social media – and turn to coaching.

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