To Ban Or Not To Ban

Is that, the Question?

It is no surprise that educators struggle with classroom management in the age of the smartphone. The number of distractions is just too large to list. This coupled with the temptation to cheat and the problem of cyberbullying has led many schools to ban smartphones altogether. This often pushes education about these issues into the "after school" territory. When this happens, parents need advice and education for teaching digital citizenship to their children.

Shakespeare Selfie
Shakespeare Selfie

Help is Here!

A good resource for understanding and teaching digital citizenship is Common Sense Media. This site has information for both Parents and Educators. The site also provides in-depth data and review to help determine age-appropriateness of everything from books, to video games.  It is neat how they give a parent opinion and a kids opinion in the recommendations for appropriate age.

What happens when you ban ...

I have to say that banning something like technology goes against my nature as a librarian. Especially when I am fighting so hard to provide access to information. 

Signe Whitson makes a great point in her article Why Banning Social Media Is Not the Best Answer for Kids.
"... adults do kids a frightening dis-service by banning the use of technology outright. At best, this head-in-the-sand approach ill-prepares kids to deal with the world in which they live and at worst, it creates a fervor among these young people to get their hands on social media in sneaky, risky ways."
We have all seen what banning a book does for circulation of the banned books.  I have noticed when you ban technology and social media there is indeed a fervor that drives students "underground."

You can't teach if you are not in the classroom

Some educators may brag that they don't really pay attention to social media. This is sad to me because they are discounting an important part of their students' lives.  Two years ago in 2015 Pew and the Internet reported that 73% of teens had a smartphone and 41% of teens were on Snapchat and half of teens were on Instagram.  When you ignore the technology platform it becomes a teacherless classroom.  We need teachers of all ages in the social space [online] teaching about honesty, courage, and respect.  How? Not necessarily befriending young people as peers, we instead need to provide positive role models of not just "appropriate" but honest, courageous, and respectful behavior online!

Traditional Values for the Digital World

So, how can we as educators help Generation Z, born into our data-rich world, learn digital citizenship and discernment skills? Jason Ohler in a 2011 article, Character Education for the Digital Age introduces the idea that we should encourage students to live a single life.
"The "two lives" perspective says that our students should live a traditional, digitally unplugged life at school and a second, digitally infused life outside of school."
The article further discusses the idea of developing and teaching traditional values and how to apply them to the digital world.   Ohler cites two organizations lists of principles.  These lists show the overlap of what is important to diverse groups.
International Center for Leadership in Education: "The 12 Guiding Principles of Exceptional Character"  - adaptability, compassion, contemplation, couragehonesty, initiative, loyalty, optimism, perseverance, respect, responsibility, and trust-worthiness 
Heartwood Institute: "The Seven Universal Ethical Attributes" - courageloyalty, justice, respect, hope, honesty, and love 

Finding ways to teach these intangibles is a challenge.  And teaching without a teacher-parent partnership is nearly impossible.  Join me as I search for ways to encourage parents and teach students to live a singular life.  One where students don't hide from the trusted adults in their lives.  And one where we embrace the positives of technology and the digital world and use tech for the greater good.  

Ways to start merging the digital and physical space

  • Learn about the technology for yourself
  • Ask your child or student to teach you how to set up an Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter
  • Ask students for tips on the "unwritten rules" [like don't screenshot everything]
  • Read about emerging technologies and recommend those with educational benefits 
  • Make the technology conversation less threatening 
  • Ask students "how can we use technology for good?"

Take a look at our Digital Parenting Book Display

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