It was very important to me to post these screenshots side-by-side; two stories from the same day. The juxtaposition of good and evil illustrate just how truly important it is to teach our children the ins and outs of the tools so readily available at their fingertips.
One, a parent’s worst fear, ripped from Iowa headlines, the other, an Instagram photo diary of one teen’s recovery from an eating disorder. It’s easy to focus on the bad. It’s easy to focus on the ways in which we need to protect our children from the evil that exists in this world. It’s easy and it’s important; incredibly important.
Equally important, however, is the good. Equally important is the valuable, powerful work that comes from kids all across the world. Every day kids are working to make a difference, in their own lives and the lives of others, and every day kids make a choice to make a positive impact on the world around them.
As you think about teaching digital citizenship, remember that it comes in many forms. Just as there are many roles of citizens of a country or community, there are many roles that come into play as a citizen of the global, online community. Our children have just as much of a right and responsibility to be change agents as they do to being safe, conscientious online producers and consumers. Creating a positive digital footprint deserves the same weight as identity protection and “netiquette.”
Find the balance. Find the balance between empowering voice and agency, and teaching safety and security.