Developing Digitally Responsible Students
Expanded access to technology requires responsible digital citizens, ability to manage distractions
The use of technology and the Internet are integral tools in the education of students. Our students are living in a digital world that requires them to interact in non-traditional ways. Lake Stevens School District recognizes the instructional benefits of these technological resources, but also strives to ensure students are protected from risks and unnecessary distractions. It’s essential that students become responsible digital citizens, and that parents understand how they can support the process outside of school.
One of the district’s goals is to provide students with rich and ample opportunities to use technology for important purposes in schools—just as individuals in workplaces and other real-world settings use these tools. To do this safely, the district has an Electronic Resources Policy (1800) that outlines the dos and don’ts for students when using district devices and accessing the network. The policy also incorporates the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act.
Teachers in all grade levels participate in frequent professional development courses to learn ways to effectively incorporate technology into their instruction. Each building also has a Tech Mentor who is an onsite resource for teachers as they navigate the numerous technological education resources available.
District technology and teaching and learning staff are working to develop a digital citizenship curriculum that will be tiered for appropriateness at all grade levels.
What resources are currently available?
Students in grades three through 12 have filtered access to the Internet through the district network. This filtering is different for students and staff members, but certain “classifications” are blocked for all users, including: pornography; gambling; obscenities; adult content; hate/violence; and URL shorteners. For students, social media sites are also currently blocked on the district network.
Beginning this January, YouTube will be available for secondary students in grades six through 12. Allowing access to YouTube gives students and teachers additional learning resources. Teachers employ classroom management skills—such as closing laptops when students should be focused on instruction—and will continue to monitor student use of the Internet during class and provide guidance on appropriateness. It’s essential that students view YouTube— and the Internet in general—as a learning tool and continue to follow proper behaviors, and not be bogged down by digital distractions.
What are digital distractions?
Technology isn’t going anywhere. But multitasking— specifically media multitasking—is a concern. While it’s easy to blame technological devices for the distraction problem, it is important to remember that the control of distractions is something that we all can and must manage—students and adults alike—especially in today’s 24/7 digital media world.
Parents can play an important role in helping students to manage digital distractions by reinforcing good choices at home. These include:
- Set good examples: Do your children see you balancing your media usage?
- Set clear limits: Work with your children to establish a schedule that includes things they need to do online and offline.
- Get involved: Make sure you know what your children are doing online.
For more information, visit Common Sense Media’s blog.
How can parents help their children become responsible digital citizens?
The Internet is a wonderful place for learning and entertainment, but like the world around us, it can pose dangers if precautions are not taken.
- Remain positively engaged: Pay attention to and know the online environments your children use. Surf the Internet with them. Try to react constructively when they encounter inappropriate material. Make it a teachable moment.
- Support their good choices: Expand your children’s online experience and their autonomy when developmentally appropriate, as they demonstrate competence in safe and secure online behavior and good decision making.
- Explain the implications: Help your children understand the public nature of the Internet and its risks as well as benefits. Be sure they know that any digital info they share, such as emails, photos, or videos, can easily be copied and pasted elsewhere, and is almost impossible to take back.
- Empower your children to handle issues: Your children may deal with situations online such as bullying, unwanted contact, or hurtful comments. Work with them on strategies for when problems arise, such as talking to a trusted adult, not retaliating, calmly talking with the person, blocking the person, or filing a complaint.
- Teach critical thinking: Help your children identify safe, credible websites and other digital content, and be cautious about clicking on, downloading, posting and uploading content.
- Know the protection features of the websites and software your children use: All major Internet service providers (ISPs) have tools to help you manage young children’s online experience (e.g., selecting approved websites, monitoring the amount of time they spend online, or limiting the people who can contact them) and may have other security features, such as pop-up blockers. Third-party tools are also available. But remember that your home isn't the only place they can go online.
- Review privacy settings: Look at the privacy settings available on social networking sites, cell phones, and other social tools your children use. Decide together which settings provide the appropriate amount of protection for each child.
For more information about digital citizenship, visit the Common Sense Media website at www.commonsensemedia.org.
To review the district’s Electronic Resources Policy 1800, visit the school district website, www.lkstevens.wednet.edu and click on “School Board Policies” under “Site Shortcuts.”