My Changing Views on Digital Identity

I have mentioned quite a few times already that up until this class I have had very little activity online personally, although I do use some digital strategies in my classroom. I keep a few social media accounts but very rarely actually post on them. A small part of my resistance has to do with not knowing/wanting to learn how to use these tools, but a major part is because for some reason I have always been overly cautious about my digital footprint. I would see videos like the one Dalton shared (What’s in Your Digital Footprint?) and think to myself that the best way to avoid worrying about issues like permanency is to just not post at all (or rarely). This cautious approach really settled in for me when I was going through the education program and considering my professional image.

Additionally, it seems like there are often stories about people who get into trouble online like one of the earliest examples of Yuri Wright, high school football player who was expelled for graphic and inappropriate tweets and lost collage scholarship opportunities, or the more recent story of Logan Mailloux, Montreal Canadiens draft pick, who shared an image of an “intimate moment” without consent. Now that I have started this class, however, I think that instead of seeing stories like this and using it as a justification to not be active online, it seems like it should be viewed as an opportunity to make sure that digital literacy skills are being taught and modelled. In many scenarios, like the ones mentioned above, it often involves youth and it does highlight the need for digital literacy to be viewed seriously and starting at a young age. This comes back to the chat discussion we had in class about whose responsibility it is to teach digital literacy and whether or not it should be its own class. As it becomes a larger part of our lives both personally and professionaly, we need to adapt how we approach it with youth and there is certainly some merit to it being required content. This would set students up with better skills in this area as they begin to make their own digital footprints. As Gerry pointed out in the Topic C group presentation, just because youth are using technology more does not mean they have the skills to be safe and critical users (from the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools document).

Speaking of digital literacy at a young age, this is something I am just stepping in to, as I have children who are 8 and 5 years old. I found Leah’s shared resource, Digital Citizenship: Guide for Parents, to be extremely interesting. Most of the information in it is almost a bit too old for my children, but we are rapidly approaching the age where this will be very relevant and I found this to be an extremely well laid out and easy to use guide, starting right from the Table of Contents. I especially liked the “Five Key Tips for Digital Parenting” on page 4:

  1. Don’t be scared
  2. Talk to your kids
  3. Be a part of your kids’ media lives
  4. Be the person your kid comes to when they have problems onlines
  5. Set rules and communicate values

This reminds me of the contract for devices that Alec brought up a few weeks ago in his lecture – it makes it really clear what the expectations are, it makes you an involved part of the process, and it forces conversations to happen about the safe use of those devices. Now that my kids are getting old enough to be interested in the online world, it is becoming more important for me to open myself up to it as well. What worked in the past for me as an individual doesn’t work as well now that I have my own kids to think about. I want them to be smart users of digital platforms, but I think that makes me responsible to know what is out there as well.

All in all, the changes in my perspective aren’t all that radical, but I am much more open to embracing technology than I was a few months ago. I have enjoyed experimenting with some new online platforms in my classes (some are keepers, some aren’t!) and I think I will continue to do so even after this class concludes.

3 Replies to “My Changing Views on Digital Identity”

  1. Kelly Ziegler says: Reply

    Holly, I am so glad that you have used what you are learning in our course and utilizing it in your classroom space. Even though it may be uncomfortable at times, there are healthy boundaries that you can set for yourself and with your students about using technology in the classroom and how you can manage it as well. Using technology just to use technology isn’t the most effective practice, therefore, using it how you feel comfortable using it is important. Teaching the kiddos of tomorrow about being good digital citizens is beneficial for not only your classroom and them using it properly, but also as they get older and face more and more difficult situations. I enjoyed your summary of the past class, and forgot a few things that were brought up that you mentioned, so thanks for that!

  2. Great reflective post, Holly! I love your mindset of opening up more to tech as your children are entering the age where they are becoming interested in it. I remember Jody Carrington talking about something similar once, and highlighting that an adult’s response is critical in creating healthy boundaries and outlooks. Jody referenced a child who expresses interest in using marijuana to their parent; while it might be our instinct to pounce on that idea and shoot it down, this often has a reverse psychology on youth, and makes them want to do it more. Instead, she suggested having an open conversation with the child about why they are interested in it. I think we need to have this same approach with tech: if we don’t allow kids to use tech at all to try and shield them from the world, they will likely use it without adult supervision or guidance and get into more trouble!

  3. Kola Mckenzie says: Reply

    Hi Holly, I loved how you discuss the modeling aspect of teaching digital citizenship. It’s so vital to actively demonstrate examples of learning for our students. I, too am embracing technology with an open mindset. Learning from this class and colleagues is really shifting my perspective. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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