To Be(er) or not to Be(er)

Digital citizenship continues to be an issue of major importance. And as we learned from this week’s chat with Patrick Maze, the issues surrounding digital citizenship extend beyond students and teachers. One of the issues Patrick discussed was the potential backlash that can be raised by parents if they find a picture on social media that they deem to be offensive. Considering the uproar that was raised surrounding the beer discussion, I decided to focus my blog post around this idea.


Elizabeth Thoman states in her article, “from the clock radio that wakes us up in the morning until we fall asleep watching the late night talk show, we are exposed to hundreds – even thousands – of images and ideas not only from television but also from websites, movies, talk radio, magazine covers, e-mail, video games, music, cell phone messages, billboards – and more. Media no longer just shape our culture.. they ARE our culture.”

If we can agree that the media is our culture (and I do agree), then is seeing a picture of someone holding a beer on Facebook really that much different than seeing that happen in real life? And since we are adults, I see no issue with a teacher enjoying an adult beverage in a responsible manner.

Furthermore, Thoman goes on to say “Teens today have no memory of life without television; kindergarteners know only a world with cell phones, laptops, instant messaging and movies on DVD. To ignore the media-rich environment they bring with them to school is to shortchange them for life.” Because our students are so comfortable with technology, the interactions online feel as common and natural as “real life” interactions that we grew up with. Therefore, we would be doing a disservice to our students to disallow the use of technology in their assignments and daily lives.

Now if we are to allow students to engage this further access to technology in the classroom, we need to do our part to make sure they are digitally literate and prepared. Mudita Kundra states: “For students to be digitally literate, they not only need to learn how to use technology, but to be critical of the information they gather. Students are exposed to information digitally—articles, statistics, videos. They require explicit instruction that information might be old, biased, fake, illegal, or discriminatory.”

To wrap up these thoughts, digital citizenship certainly has a place in the classrooms, not as a one-off but as an ongoing thought process.

As the knowledge of students, teachers, and parents continues to grow, we hopefully can move past the stigma of seeing a picture on social media and understand social media is now just an extension of our real lives.

Any thoughts that you have on the subject I would love to hear.


4 thoughts on “To Be(er) or not to Be(er)

  1. I really like how you finish explaining that social media is just an extension of ourselves. I think that by teaching students more about the digital world that they were born into they will be able to think critically about what they see online. Great reflection.


  2. Awesome summary of key points, and reflection, Kyle. I read article yesterday about the ability of “tagging” on Snapchat and being able to tag friends like in a Facebook photo, then those who click on the tag are automatically re-routed to the individual who was tagged. I immediately thought of the discussion we had with Pat surrounding the notion that sometimes, people have no idea that a photo of them has even been shared. In terms of your question, how do we get past one image painting the picture of who we really are is a good one. I think the big thing as professionals is to create an online presence that defines you in the way that you want to be defined, and in doing so, you give others an opportunity to see the “you” that you want to expose. People naturally assume things, and by increasing our online presence as educators makes one small picture part of a larger picture.
    In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to worry about this. But, the reality is that, because we are teaching in a transition period where sharing/learning through social media is still relatively new to some, we haven’t quite got a grasp on all of the social norms, etiquette, and internal filters in terms of who to respond to what we see when we see it. Really great post!


  3. Kyle, I enjoyed reading the take you took on the topics discussed with Patrick Maze in class last week. The article from Thoman brought up a great point about how today’s youth are inundated by media and are constantly seeing a multitude of pictures online, on TV, on video games, etc. that it is becoming especially important to teach our students to be critical of the information they are viewing and not accept everything they see or hear at face value. As we are living in a world that is becoming increasingly more connected and digital, perhaps it is important to remember some of the points Alec and Katia ( raised in their blog post on Digital Identity and remind people to be mindful of context, intent, and past posting history before judging a single photo they see on social media.


  4. Great post – a good read,

    I think that you nailed it when you said that social media is a series of snapshots that are extensions of our real lives. That is a very important message that we all need to learn. Hopefully, knowing that it is a snapshot will allow us to have a meaningful conversation and become better digital citizens.

    Because, I choose to be(er) and I don’t want to pretend otherwise.


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