An insight into what citizenship means for our young people.
Last week, as part of the pastoral program, Year 7 conducted some research into digital citizenship and social media. Given today’s technological climate, it is imperative that we educate our young men about their rights and responsibilities online. Not only that, but also the potential pitfalls and risks associated with being online. The term digital citizen perhaps sums this up well. It refers to the idea that we are all citizens and that we are all connected as a community in some way. Traditionally, citizenship referred to the notion that members, or citizens, of a particular country or city could expect certain privileges and benefits. Citizens have the right to vote, to own land and to representation under the law. In return, these benefits carry with them specific responsibilities and expectations. Namely, that citizens will act in accordance with established rules, that they will contribute in meaningful ways to their communities and help maintain the agreed upon standards that all citizens are asked to uphold. Therefore, digital citizenship means that members of online communities will act in the same way to benefit their communities. However, the opposite can often be true, particular with young people when social media is used to undermine the established rights and responsibilities of digital citizenship.
The work that Year 7 did last week asked them to consider things like their digital footprint and the notion of good digital citizenship in today’s context. By using social media as a learning opportunity, Year 7s were given a different perspective on their online presence by looking at the often unseen “other side.” By taking into consideration the rights of others and their responsibility to be a good digital citizen, the students gained a deeper understanding of the concept of citizenship and being a member of a community, either online or IRL (in real life). What was interesting from my perspective was the uptake from the students and their willingness to engage in such an activity. My regular day to day lessons are often met with the familiar low-grown as we knuckle down to work. However, this activity was met with enthusiasm and a level of knowledge that at times, outstrips my own (I am after all Gen Y and considered old by the current crop of social media experts). By the end of all this, my optimism for the future of our digital citizens was restored and that in years to come we will look back and say that has made all the difference.
Jonathan Hall (Year 7 Pastoral Coordinator)