Being a good digital citizen doesn’t just happen; it takes effort on the part of educators, parents and peers. (Courtesy)

Being a good digital citizen doesn’t just happen; it takes effort on the part of educators, parents and peers. (Courtesy)

Teaching students to be good citizens online

I learned some new words this week including “finsta” and “crowdturfing.” You may already know what these words mean — but in case you don’t, let me give you a hint — they are part of an emerging vocabulary related to Digital Citizenship.

SFUSD educators know that being safe and successful in the digital world is now essential knowledge. We aim to guide students to make good decisions while using the powerful technology that permeates their lives. That’s why this past week seventy schools across the City taught lessons related to Digital Citizenship.

More than half of those schools have reached the standard for Digital Citizenship set by Common Sense Media. This means they commit to raise awareness of safe, responsible, and appropriate online behaviors by incorporating multiple lessons throughout the school year. We hope to double the number of certified schools before the next Digital Citizenship Week next year.

What does teaching digital citizenship look like?

We start as early as kindergarten. Our students play a simple game called Going Places Safely, where they discover that the internet can be used to visit far-away places and learn new things, and that staying safe online is like staying safe in the real world. There are some good basic rules for children to stay safe while traveling on the internet. For example, don’t meet up in person with someone you meet online, and think carefully before you post something.

For older students we promote in-depth activities about cyberbullying. In one lesson, called “Upstanding,” students discuss what it means to be brave and stand up for others offline and online. They learn to show empathy for those who have been cyberbullied and generate multiple strategies to intervene when peers need help.

By the time our students reach high school, digital tools are essential to accessing information and building knowledge. However, given the “alternative facts” littered across the internet, we spend time teaching our students to be critical consumers of the material on the screen in front of them. Who is the author? What is their point of view? Who is the intended audience? Where was it published and in what medium? When was it written? Are valid sources cited?

This bring me back to finsta (a fake Instragram account) and crowdturfing (fake consumer reviews). Our students need to be able to separate fact from fiction when they see it online now more than ever.

Ready for the world

We have a set of competencies we want all students to possess by the time they graduate, including readiness to tackle a changing world. This includes understanding new technologies and navigating in an interconnected 21st Century global society.

Many of the lessons and activities we work with at SFUSD related to Digital Citizenship are shared with us by an organization called Common Sense Media. If you have children in your life whom you’re helping to guide through the digital world, I encourage you to check out their helpful tools online. You may also head to StaySafeOnline.org to keep learning about how to be a safe and responsible user of digital resources.

Being a good digital citizen doesn’t just happen; it takes effort on the part of educators, parents and peers — just like it takes effort to be good citizens offline.

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

education

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

Income from Shared Spaces will provide financial resources to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency, according to its director, Jeffrey Tumlin. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse to protest eviction orders issued against renters Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Federal judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions

David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Buhayar Los Angeles Times A federal judge in Washington… Continue reading

Most Read