Digital Citizenship Includes Rights as Well as Responsibilities

“Although not all American adults feel this way, the United States seems to have more respect for the rights of parents, schools and authorities than it does for the rights of children. And this includes control over what children can see and where they can express themselves by limiting access to certain websites including (in the case of schools) social networking sites. And while I fully understand the inclination to protect children from inappropriate content and disclosing too much personal information, adults need to find ways to be protective without being controlling. That’s a tough balance but one worth thinking about as we struggle for ways to parent and educate in the digital age while respecting the rights of young people.

So, as we go forward to discuss digital citizenship, let’s remember that citizenship is a two-way street. Citizens do have responsibilities but they also have rights.”

via Larry Magid: Digital Citizenship Includes Rights as Well as Responsibilities.

4 Replies to “Digital Citizenship Includes Rights as Well as Responsibilities”

  1. There is certainly a need to help children learn how to use the internet safely and responsibly. I don’t want to do all of the thinking for my students in regards to their use of the Internet. I would love to have the chance to do that at school in a hands-on way, especially with regard to social networking sites (including blogs), which are all blocked. We’re going to be required to teach more digital citizenship for the purpose of E-Rate discounts, but it appears that it will all be via presentations (for social networking sites) because of school filtering. I do have the chance to use wikis and some blogs, but it’s not primarily what students are using. I agree that school filters go too far in filtering, but it’s not an easy task. No one is the bad guy. It should involved a discussion between teachers, admin., parents, students, & ITs.

    As far as stripping the rights of parents to protect their children from content on the web, I don’t think government/education has that right. They are children and they are subject to the authority of their parents. Thinking children should have the same rights to access as their parents without parental consent disrespects family structure/authority. So, I’d have to disagree with Larry on the whole push to GIVE them equal rights. As a parent, my child has to show they can be responsible with technology to continue to use it. The school isn’t around to police my child’s use outside of school.

    Anyway, that’s just my perspective.

  2. Until administrations trust that all teachers will wisely oversee student use of social networks, they will continue to block. This means teachers first must learn how to be responsible digital citizens and model that behavior with their students.

    In addition, parents have to feel comfortable that their children are protected. One suggestion I read about in Will Richardson’s book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classroom was a permission letter (similar to a field trip permission slip) that outlines the use, the security measures and most importantly the “Blogging Terms and Conditions.” The parent and child must sit down and discuss these together and agree any student activity will be guided by these rules. If everyone acts responsibly, then there is no reason to limit student rights, and hopefully the only limits will be on inappropriate behavior

  3. Even if social networking sites are blocked on school property and filtered at home, kids who want access can easily do so. It is entirely up to the parents to decide what their own kids can view, not the schools. However, the schools have full right to filter whatever they deem appropriate on school servers and school grounds. I think part of the reason why schools may block such sites is due to accountability; they don’t want to be held responsible and face a lawsuit if a student meets someone on Facebook and ends up missing.

  4. Can we really say social networking sites are blocked in schools or do we really mean Facebook/MySpace/twitter etc? I’m not being rhetorical; I haven’t been in the classroom in awhile. I feel this distinction is inherently important to any conversation on the topic.

    Personally, I’ve rarely seen anything on Facebook that I think would be appropriate for students to be accessing in school. Sure, we could TRY to make Facebook an educational tool, just like you could also try to do homework in a noisy bar.

    Can the popular social networks truly and effectively adapted to other ends besides the sociability inherent in the name? Can we envision and Education Network or a Governance Network that uses the same technology and concepts to different ends? Those may be worth having in the classroom. Are we only having this conversation because we lack the vision to see potential beyond the technology that exists today- technology originally designed with the intent of mimicking the social aspect of college? Facebook in the classroom winds up being a square peg in a round hole; that’s never going to be truly adequate and, in my opinion, wasted energy.

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