Digital Citizenship

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When I was a sophomore in high school I went to a presentation given by a police officer about the horrors of online oversharing. He showed us that in just a few clicks he could find out a person’s age, address, phone number, hours when they most likely won’t be home … you can only imagine. After that, I deleted my Facebook account. Most of the articles and videos I read/watched made me feel the same way that I did before – technology can be a monster’s aid. Some of the videos I watched were The Dangers of Social Media (http://www.teachthought.com/technology/dangers-social-media-teens/), the TED talk: Your Online Life, Permanent as a Tattoo (http://www.ted.com/talks/juan_enriquez_how_to_think_about_digital_tattoos?utm_source=direct-on.ted.com&utm_content=awesm-publisher&utm_campaign=&awesm=on.ted.com_Tattoo&utm_medium=on.ted.com-static), What Can Strangers Learn about You Online (http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/what-can-strangers-learn-about-you-online/), and I ended up discovering a video of my own similar in content. The first was somewhat corny, but the message was clear: with minimal effort, anyone can find almost anything out about you. The scariest resource that I checked out was either The Lessons of Steubenville (http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-lessons-of-steubenville) or a video about all of the new technology that can learn any amount of information about you from just a picture. The first was an article about a teenage girl who was sexually maltreated and raped at a party. Because of living in our digital age, plenty of evidence was available to prove who was involved in the horrific acts, but evidently the boys involved got off with little more than a slap on the wrist. The other was a video which explained how consumerism is a curse. I found out that computers can give a best guess as to who is in a picture. While that makes it easier to tag your friends in a picture you just uploaded to Facebook, this advancement can be used for marketing, or other purposes which are far worse. If a camera spots you several times with different purses that all have a similar style, ads on your phone and computer will be catered to your taste in purses. That might not scare you. But would you be frightened to find out that just by taking a picture of a person you can then find out their name, age, hometown, profession, and any other personal information. Con artists are using this technology to do just this. Facial recognition is hard to get away from, and the consequences of this are nerve-racking. All of this quite honestly freaked me out. I saw on other resources that we try to teach kids to not overshare online and schools try to teach kids how to be safe online, but I feel like the only way to really be safe is to never use technology – which is basically impossible. Am I expected to teach my students online ethics in my English classroom? Am I expected to monitor websites to make sure they are 100% safe? If so, how do I go about doing that? I’m interested in finding out what you all think.

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2 thoughts on “Digital Citizenship

  1. The photo recognition stuff is really scary. I mean, I think it’s scary enough to see ads on FB for stuff I’ve looked at on other websites. How much scarier to see ads for things I’m not doing on the computer! I do think we need to get serious about teaching online ethics in English courses. Our students are doing a tremendous amount of reading and writing online, and it’s really problematic when a literacy class ignores the spaces where students actually live their literate lives. I’m reading an interesting book right now called Digital Reading: What’s Essential in Grades 3-8 and thinking of lots of ways to make it applicable to high school and even my college classes.

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    • I’ve got to say, a lot of assignments designed for younger students can be used for older students and vice versa if it’s altered a tad. I’d love to check out that book. I’ll see if I can find it on Amazon (which will then inevitably lead to advertisements on my computer of books with similar content, haha).

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