The more I read about teaching digital citizenship to students the more I wonder if there are that many hours in a day to do it justice. The articles that I had read lately point out the fact that students are being held accountable for their online actions even if it takes place at home because of the ramifications that it has on the school system and the community of school. Litigation is typically in favor of the school systems when students do not act responsibly online–even though this sounds like it is against the freedom of speech. School officials do have the right to make decisions that are best for the entire student body when a student who has been given leadership privileges abuses the right. When something is written online even if it is from the privacy of your home, it doesn’t stay in the home. It is out there for the world to read, comment, and throw stones at the author at will.
One of the most interesting articles that I read was published by the New York Times called,“When Dad Banned Text Messaging”, by Debbie Geiger.http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/30/when-dad-banned-text-messaging/?em Immediately after I read the article, I thought to myself, you have got to be kidding. Why would one parent write about how she wishes her husband would be more lenient on his opinions about his daughter’s excessive texting and then publish it? But what became more interesting than the article itself, were the hundreds of comments that came pouring in, condemning the author of the article. I have never read anything quite like that before. Talk about hate mail, and cyber bullying. Now I understand a little bit better why it is hard to teach against cyber bullying in school. We, as adults, do it too and it is considered acceptable. I might have thought some of the same comments as those that replied, but some were things that I don’t think would have been said if it had been a face to face conversation. It is so easy to state things strongly in a comment or in an email that we would never say in person. I think it is a good rule of thumb, to ask ourselves, “would I have the courage to say this in person to someone.” If the answer is no, then reconsider publishing it, even if it is only a comment. Words can hurt and they are hard to take back once it is published. It is then out of your control. I’m glad I kept reading until I found the author’s lengthly reply to the hundreds of people who wrote some very cruel and hateful messages about her. I was glad to understand her viewpoint and some things that were left out of the article, such as she had discussed the article with her family before she published it. That made a huge difference to me, because in her article she made it sound like she was disagreeing with her husband, but published her thought online for the world to read.
I think I understand a little better about cyber bullying and why the term is not recognized by students. It is as if, we as teachers are speaking in a different language when we address these issues. Reading the article above helped me understand that a little bit more, since even as adults, we can be guilty of cyber bullying in our comments on blog posts.