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Media balance becomes important focus of digital citizenship lessons
Media balance becomes important focus of digital citizenship lessons
Posted on 10/29/2020
Kid at computer

It’s sound advice for all of us.

As students and adults work remotely, it is important to remember the importance of having a balance between our virtual and real worlds.

“As (media center teachers) planned for the year, we knew it was important to stress the balance between being on and off of technology,” said Cory Widener, Beck Elementary media center teacher and elementary department chair.  “It is important to take the time to decompress a bit when you are using technology for long periods of time.”

Last week was digital citizenship week – a national effort to spotlight the effective and responsible use of technology.

In UCS, digital citizenship is a year-long, K-12 effort and remains one of four focus areas for district planning.

To address remote learning, teachers have changed their focus this year on student goals related to digital citizenship. These goals include:

                 Students are learning the importance of taking breaks from technology to engaging in other activities.

                 Students learn to engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using a networked device.

                 Students learn when it's appropriate to use technology and when it's not -- and practice making family rules for a device-free time at home.

                 Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and learn to be aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.

                 Students are learning to manage their personal data to maintain digital privacy and security and are aware of data-collection technology and used to track their navigation online.

UCS teachers are recognized leaders for the integration of digital citizenship skills throughout the curriculum, particularly at elementary levels where media center teachers have been trained and nationally certified.

At the beginning of the school year, media center teachers stressed the importance of taking breaks from technology, especially if their students are becoming discouraged or begin to show signs of low self-esteem.

Widener said students should take a break if they are becoming frustrated with technology, are having struggles with an assignment, or see something in a chat room or on social media that triggers a negative emotion.

The best solution is to do something that can be accomplished in a short period of time – such as walking a dog or taking a break to clean parts of their room.

“When you accomplish something away from the technology, you feel like you have had a break and now you can put that positive energy towards what you need to get done using technology,” he said.

For parents, that means encouraging your children to step away from the source of their frustration and listen to what  their student has to say.

“Let them get it off their chest,” Widener said. “Don’t pass judgement on it. Try and take that frustration and massage it into something positive.  Possibly creating an opportunity for something the student wants to do later, after they have calmed down and faced their challenge.  Parents know their child best on what those little things are.”

Widener said it is also important for parents to allow their student to work through technology issues on their own to find solutions.

"Sometimes our students struggle and struggling is part of the learning process.  We, as adults, need to let our students stumble a little and then encourage them to  dust themselves off and keep going,” he said.