According to its mission statement, Common Sense Media “exist[s] because our nation’s children spend more time with media and digital activities than they do with their families or in school, which profoundly impacts their social, emotional, and physical development” (“Our Mission,” 2010, n.p.).
Their web site features a multiple-unit lesson on Digital Citizenship, targeted at middle school students. It includes discussions of privacy, copyright, community and cyber-bullying, and reputation. Several videos, both from parents and students, engage honestly with problems like lying about your age. What happens when the college girl you’ve been chatting up wants to meet you, who’s on Facebook as a 30-something professional, and you’re really just a 12-year-old boy (“Digital,” 2010, n.p.)? Some clips feature young girls confessing to embarrassing Web moments—an inappropriate chat that is read by one child’s father and then forwarded to all parents; a video uploaded to MySpace that one of the participants thought was “so cool,” featuring her and her friends running down the street without shirts on, and then seen, again, by parents.
Although the curricula are still under development, with assessment tools and a K-5 version coming someday, they seem like a good way to engage today’s students where they are: social media are fun, important, and integral to their social lives.
As teachers, do we have an obligation to teach this sort of information, or is it one of those topics, like sex education, evolution vs. creationism, etc. that should be left up to parents? How much class time should be devoted to digital literacy and safety? Could it be used to teach reading, writing, even mathematics?
Digital citizenship overview. (2010). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/digital-citizenship/6-8
Our mission. (2010). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/about-us/our-mission
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