Three students practicing good digital citizenship.

6 steps to promote good digital citizenship for all students

Standing at the intersection of digital citizenship and responsible device usage, school districts can make a real difference in their students’ lives

By the time they get into higher education or the workforce, students need to have had their digital skills embedded. For us, that means identifying what they need in terms of guidance and support to become responsible adults in our digital world. Technology’ not going away, so they’re going to have to learn how to manage their actions in order to successfully maneuver, behave, and act appropriately.

Step 4: Find a student safety screening tool to support your safety measures.

We used to rely on student reporting of suspicious or inappropriate online activity. Before becoming a Google district, we worked with Amplified IT to complete a Google audit, which ferreted out the number of profane words residing in our students’ Google Docs.

We were filtering at a high level, but not going far enough to catch students using profanity or specific catchphrases tied to bullying, inappropriate behaviors, school violence, and other harmful situations. To help, we searched for an online platform that would close that gap while also monitoring student email for inappropriate discussions. We chose Gaggle for its robust artificial intelligence technology and the fact that real people are monitoring the student’s online activity. For us, having that tool in place is really about discipline through nurturing—and through education. When we catch something, we address it right away.

Step 5: Look for what isn’t visible – Stranger Danger and more.

We recently intervened when an underage foster child began communicating with an adult male who was planning to pick her up and run away. During one email exchange, the adult happened to include profanity, and our safety-management platform picked up on it and alerted us to the potential problem. That, in turn, opened up the entire email conversation and allowed our district administrators and the child’s foster parents to intervene in what could have turned into a major incident.

Related: Moving from digital citizenship to digital leadership

In other instances, we’ve used the e-mailing monitoring platform to identify students who were using email for online dating and/or escort services, the latter of which were posting profiles that contained nudity. Again, Gaggle caught those activities and reported them to the designated individuals who, in turn, intervened quickly.

Step 6: Know that you can’t put a price on a student’s life or future.

You also can’t put a price on the value of educating a student to be a good digital citizen. However, the investment we’ve made in both time and money to achieve our goals in this area have been well worth it. Safety is a number one priority for the stakeholders in our district.

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