Digital Citizenship

As a frequent presenter and speaker on digital citizenship, I feel it is critical to presented a balanced and considered perspective.

Its easy, particularly when presented with a captive audience, to place undue emphasis on the darker side of out digital lives. The media abounds with horror stories and tragedies, of mis-adventure and mis-direction, crime and punishment, but this is what sells papers and magazines and attracts readers/viewers. Seldom do you see the predominant reality of our digital world, people getting on with their day to day activities, be these business or leisure.

Standing up and preaching about the dangers and risks is easy, often captivating and grabs attention. Its simple to find the latest disasters and use these to highlight the pitfalls and traps that are present. Shock and awe does make for a good presentation, but to focus on the negative or exaggerate the risks is to lose the opportunity for learning. You don’t want to see teachers, parents or others in a fit of fervor banning all technology use because of perceived risks and dangers.

Its critical that we provide a balanced perspective and provide mechanisms and processes that provide guidance and support. Short term solutions like blocking, banning etc are ignoring the underlying issues of digital citizenship. While they will stop or limit the incidence or occurrence of  either inappropriate action or damage, they do little to prepare people for a world beyond the walled garden we have created.

It is only by changing behaviours and understanding, that real change can be made. It is only by changing these that we can make a sustained, hopefully life long, difference.

Rules don’t work

Too many people have fallen in to the trap of setting rules in an attempt to provide a safe environment. Definitive statements have a very limited life expectancy, they are often out of date before they are written. The rapid evolution of the web, of social media and technology means that statements specify medium or technologies are soon obsolete.

However, behaviors and actions are timeless. Change and adapt these and you provide a safe foundation for activity, learning and recreation in a dynamic world.

Want some Ideas on these?


Generational Media Usage Infographic

This is a very interesting infographic examining generation media consumption especially if we start to link this with the recent BBC article and the anecdotal vignettes from teenagers about their sleepless habits Р

There is a definite digital citizenship aspect to this. The students in the BBC article are not looking after themselves or others. They are struggling to maintqain healthy relationship and this is supported by the inforgraphic showing the timing of their technology use.


Its not suprising really, when you think about it. The cell phone, which is an extension of some many of our students brains, is potentially being used for SEXTING!!!

What is Sexting? Well have a look at the wikipedia article on it (yes it is suitable and not in any way shape or form inappropriate) Its interesting that they have cited incidence in NZ as well as the US and UK.

In the US students/kids are being charged with pornography charges and convicted, because they are sexting. The impact of this is potentially devastating – how many countries will refuse entry to someone convicted of sex crimes? How many companies will refuse to employ? How many doors like teaching, police, etc are now closed?

But it does not end there, Bullying resulting from sexting is claiming lives as young people are stressed and harassed to the point where they feel that suicide is there only way out.

Here are some sexting stats

“The percent of teenagers who have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves:

  • 20% of teenagers overall
  • 22% of teen girls
  • 18% of teen boys
  • 11% of young teen girls ages 13-16

The percent of teenagers sending or posting sexually suggestive messages:

  • 39% of all teenagers
  • 37% of teen girls
  • 40% of teen boys


Obviously we can not BAN Cell Phones. Sexting is not limited to schools, so Banning a cell phone at school just slightly restricts the time taken to send the message.

Prosecutions, will do little except ruin the lives of some individuals, and I must ask for what benefit?

What is needed is UNDERSTANDING by the students/teens of what this is and what the consequences are? But students and teens are not alone here, parents too must be educated.

The kids need to know that our digital foot prints are permenant, and that the image they share with their girlfriend or boyfriend is not a private moment between just them but potentially a public display to their friends, peers, families and beyond.

I wonder how many realise this after they have clicked send? Unsend on a cell phone?