It’s never too late

It happens to the best of us. One day you are it with the crowds, the next you are outdated. Somehow that seems to be accelerating, every day a new thing comes up, either a gadget (you mean they can really print an organ?) or an App (so, why is it a big thing to have a dog face filter?) and it is not easy to keep up, especially because platforms such as facebook are fighting for younger users. It Happened to me when I first heard about Snapchat, I was sitting in the teacher’s lounge sipping my coffee and planning a web quest for my students when a group of them appeared at the door. They wanted to talk to me about an app. I stood there for ten minutes looking at their mouths move, and I wasn’t getting any of it. Dog faces? News? Messaging? Self-destruct? It was the moment when I realized technology was moving at a faster pace than I was keeping up with, and there were going to be things that I knew nothing about.For a moment it was worse than finding my first gray hair. It was a moment of self-realization, at a young age I was already left behind.

For a moment it was worse than finding my first gray hair. It was a moment of self-realization, at a young age I was already left behind.

I am sure many can sympathize with a similar experience. There is an app, a program or even a device that you just don’t get. Or maybe you know your way around computers, but you are sure that your kids, or your students, know way more about it, and you will look foolish trying to navigate your way around it. You might even think that it is better to stick to what you know, the offline world, as the end of the day, it is what really matters, right?

Well, I am sorry to say that you are wrong. But I am also happy to say that, as challenging and daunting as it may look, YOU CAN DO IT. It is actually lot easier if we break it up a little bit, and if we understand that being tech savvy is more than a mere mechanical manipulation of devices (swipes, clicks and drags). It is the comprehensive knowledge of a new culture, a new set of rules, and to be tech savvy is to be a good Digital Citizen (basically what you need to know and do, to be a good human being that is active in the digital world of the 21st century). So considered yourself introduced to what makes a good digital citizen:

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Access: First we have the cornerstone of everything, you need to have access to the digital world. This can be done in many ways, through a phone, computer, tablet, or anything that connects to the internet. A lot of the inequality of the online world happens here, as many people around the world don’t have this access, but it is not the only thing that we need to look at.

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Literacy: Digital Literacy is as important as access, but it involves a more direct approach from an individual’s part. Literacy in the 21st century has evolved from just learning to read and write. We now have to understand and know how to use various devices and platforms. We can even take it further and learn new digital languages. Many people have the access to the technology, but do not have the Literacy.

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Communication: If you know anything about the digital world, you probably know that it has made communicating across the world very easy. It has made the world a smaller place and has open the world to collaboration with others around the globe with different cultures. Being a digital citizen means that you need to understand the type and variety of communication mediums, read and behave yourself accordingly. This takes us to the next point.

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Etiquette: It is easy to think that communication in the online world is messy and informal, after all we have all seen a teenager text: *”brb bfs lol”*. Each online forum or medium has an appropriate language and behavior, and knowing how to distinguish is key to goo communication. Another misconception is that you can do and say anything online without any consequence. This takes us to the next point.

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Rights and Responsibilities: We have to recognize our responsibilities to respect and uphold out rights and that of others, privacy, free speech and so forth.

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Law: Not everything is allowed online, there are cyber laws that we need to be aware of, and there are also cyber crimes crimes: illegal downloads and plagiarizing, hacking, viruses, spams, identity theft, cyberbullying, doxing (sharing peoples information online to target them), and of course this means we have rights.

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Security: Cybercrimes are growing, and it means we need to make sure we are protecting ourselves and out love ones. You can do this by practicing simple steps, such as building strong passwords, protecting devices from viruses, backing up your data.

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Commerce: As technology becomes more mainstream everywhere we are realizing that most of the economy is now online. This means that as 21st-century citizens we need to know the benefits and risks of online commerce, and realize that not everything is family friendly (there are a  lot of illegal activities such as drugs gambling and plagiarism, as well as a huge pornography market).

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Health: From mental health to physical health, digital citizens need to be aware of the stress that the online world has in our real life bodies, from eye strain and back problem to stress and depression from online harassment.

In this blog, I will be talking about specific aspects of each and every point of Digital Citizenship so you can keep up with the online world, and hopefully, with your kids or students. Let me know what you would like to know!

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