Society has changed. In the past it was the norm for families was to join together around a dinner table to talk about the events of the day. People read newspapers and watched or listened to news broadcasts from professional journalists. These journalists gathered information from trusted sources then shared the information with the masses. Today many of these trusted sources of information are gone and now it is the responsibility of the individual to determine what information is correct. Now families who want to learn what members of the household they check status’, posts or send texts.
Technology has changed the dynamics of families, schools and communities. The introduction to children, often at a very young age, does provide opportunities that their parents did not have. Often technology can allow for creativity on a scale that was unknown in the past. It allows users to produce information instead of being just consumers of it. With the benefits that technology provides, it also can have pitfalls as well; loss personal interaction, bullied by others through digital tools, sharing more information than ought to be to others not known to us. These are just a few examples but there are other issues that can come along as well. How can we balance the positive aspects of technology, protect from the potential issues and teach the values that are needed in a society inundated with these tools.
In 2005, I started working on expanding an idea from Dr. Gerald Bailey on an idea called Digital Citizenship. From this work I came up with the concept of Nine Elements that were foundation concepts for users to understand how they were to live in a digital society.
These elements are:
- Digital Etiquette Digital Access
- Digital Law
- Digital Communication
- Digital Literacy
- Digital Commerce
- Digital Rights and Responsibilities
- Digital Security
- Digital Health and
- Digital Welfare.
These ideas are published in books (Digital Citizenship in Schools, 2nd Ed., and Raising a Digital Child) as well as several articles and presentations on the topic of appropriate technology use. Recently, I has added three overarching topics of Respect, Educate and Protect in which each of the Nine Elements fit. The continued theme of these ideas: to prepare children and help teachers and parents to live and work together in a technology rich society. The goal of everyone should be to take all the best parts of the technology tools that are available and merge it with the needs of all society members, to have good character and respect others around them.
These Nine Elements are used throughout the United States as a starting point for a curriculum centering around responsible use of technology. Digital Citizenship is being discussed internationally as well. With the growth in the use of technology in education there is a need for a program that helps students to focus on the positive uses of technology and be much more discerning in their decisions of what to post, comment or discuss when using digital technologies. Most people will do what is right, if they know what the right thing is. To help define these ideas for everyone a program is needed to direct everyone to what is the appropriate thing to do when using technology. This was the reason for Digital Citizenship and its framework to help define how to use the technology in responsible ways.