I grew up in Lumsden, SK and this is a large part of my personal identity and worldview. You learn in a small town that if you are not kind to someone, or do something you should not, that people find out and they judge you based on this. Your reputation is built on your mistakes, successes and, most importantly, contributions to the community. People are slow to forget but also one can positively affect their reputation by contributing and being their best self. I feel it is quite similar with one's digital identity. The internet is slow to forget and also rewards positive contributions and interactions. We are all citizen's of the digital town, Internet-ville and we should be aware of how our existence affects others. We should also be mindful of how we are a global community online and how children are learning to become citizen's in this new settlement.
As a young person, I made mistakes in terms of not being kind to others. This was in person and so has been forgotten by most, except those that I spoke harshly to. I also contributed to my town by working at the gardens, playing sports, and even helping to fund-raise for and build the splash pad in the photo ($120 000 over two years). I am proud of who I am currently as a citizen and the contributions I have made and currently make to my community. I am also very aware of my online presence and do my best to show my family and values in my posts. But now youth must go through these stages of learning in the digital age where data never really goes away. It is a harsh lesson but one that young technology users must take to heart. As Mike Ribble says we must teach "Digital etiquette: rules and policies aren’t enough — we need to teach everyone about appropriate conduct online." I believe this to be one of the most important elements of digital citizenship, second only to digital balance, and knowing when to unplug! Same as the person who spends to much time at the bar or the VLT's, addiction will spill into all facets of one's life. Balance and well-being are key to a healthy and fulfilled life, online and offline.
Much like in a small town, there is wonderful things to do and see: sports, shopping, hiking, paddling, coffee shops, ice-cream, splash pads, sledding, volunteer work and so much more, but there is also the negative: alcoholism, abuse, theft, drug-use, and negative people. This is much like the internet, it is all there, you just have to choose carefully and wisely the path you navigate and tread. It is also our duty to help youth navigate these choices on their devices. You would not send a six year old to go out and explore the streets alone without guidance and clear expectations. Then why would you do that with them on their devices, as there is just as much trouble they could get into online as offline much of the time. The immediate threat to their safety is less apparent, but long-term there is definite risks to unsupervised online activity, whether it be severe online bullying, identity theft, catfishing and more. It takes a village to raise a child, even if that village is Internet-ville.
The problem right now is that as important as digital citizenship is, it is not being directly taught in schools with no real curricular outcomes attached to course. Futhermore parents aren't necessarily filling in the knowledge at home either. Despite the report for "Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools" recommending the importance of online safety and awarenesss being taught from K to 12, without a true curricular course or focus it seems to be not being taught widespread. Only teachers with an interest or awareness would likely take this upon themselves. I personally have received zero professional development through my division on including digital citizenship in our teaching of courses. I would argue that since the internet and devices has fundamentally changed the way the world works much like writing and math changed the course of human history, that it is no longer just about learning the basics of reading - riting - and rithmetic for an educated society but we should now consider digital awareness / citizenship as an essential skill for the future of our students and communities. And if we would like this to be taught, we should train teachers to do so and create curriculums that contain this essential knowledge. This would benefit our children, our communities, and Internet-ville!