I remember fondly back to my high school days in the late 1980s, slaving over the BASIC computer program. When Bill Gates and Paul Allen formed a little company called Microsoft and brought BASIC to the home computer, ICT use exploded in popularity as it became possible for families to have a household computer. Fast forward 30 years to 2019, and most people now have multiple devices ranging from computers, to tablets, iPads, smartphones, while everything can also be saved to the cloud.
Do you remember logging on to dial up internet? I remember my own Dad when I was in my late teenage years starting up the computer, commencing the dial up internet connection and then going to make a cup of tea as it took so long to connect! How would our own children handle dial up internet speed today?
The use of ICT has revolutionised a whole generation of students who are currently in our schools. These students are often referred to as digital natives as they have not known a world without internet connectivity and Wi-Fi. When we moved to the Gold Coast during the Term 2 holiday, we stayed at an Airbnb house for two nights and wireless internet was not included. Can you imagine my own children and their reaction when we told them there was no Wi-Fi___33? It was as if we had cut off one of their limbs!
It is imperative that our own children are safe and responsible digital citizens. If your child has a smartphone, iPad, internet enabled access or a social media account, uses an online educational platform or creates digital content, they are a digital citizen. Responsible digital citizenship means taking part in online community life in a safe, ethical and respectful way. For the younger students in our Junior School this even refers to popular programs such Roblox, Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin.
Here are some ways to encourage your child to be safe and responsible online, while still having fun. These tips and further information can be found on the raising children website, which is an Australian parenting website supported by the Australian Government. https://raisingchildren.net.au/pre-teens/entertainment-technology/digital-life/digital-citizenship
Also, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner is committed to empowering all Australians to have safer, more positive experiences online. The Office was established in 2015 with a mandate to coordinate and lead online safety efforts. It has a lot of very good resources on eSafety and has been created by the Australian Government. https://www.esafety.gov.au/esafety-information
Respect for yourself and other people is important in all relationships, and it’s no different when you’re online. You can encourage your child to treat online friends with as much respect as those they meet face to face. Part of this is not creating or forwarding nasty or humiliating emails, photos or text messages about someone else.
You can also encourage your child to tell you or another trusted adult if they see someone being bullied or attacked online. Young people often try to sort things out for themselves, but it’s good to get your child into the habit of telling you if they are worried about something that’s happening online. It might help your child to know that things are easier to sort out when other people help.
If your child gets any nasty or bullying comments on their profile pages, they should block or unfriend people who don’t treat them with respect online. This sends the message that it’s not OK to mistreat or bully someone online.
Make sure your child understands the consequences of posting photos and videos and uploading other personal content. Once this content is online, it’s very hard to get rid of and can become part of your child’s permanent online reputation. For example, you might say, ‘some photos and videos might seem OK to you now, but you might feel differently about them in the future and not want people to see them’. Depending on your child’s age, you could agree that they show you posts, images and other content before it is uploaded.
There are several ways your child can protect their privacy:
It’s often hard to read emotion in posts and emails, and jokes can easily be misinterpreted. You can encourage your child to ‘stop, think, review’ before they send an electronic message or post an online comment. Using emojis or hashtags can help!
There are lots of dodgy people, places and offers online. Not everyone online is who they say they are. It’s important for your child to be careful about what they share with people they don’t know. Your child should also be careful about clicking pop-ups on websites. Some pop-ups that seem safe can lead to inappropriate websites or ask for personal or financial information.
It is imperative that as teachers and parents/guardians we model as well as equip our children with the tools to ensure safe and ethical behaviour when using ICT, at school, home and within the community. The safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT is an important part of our students’ learning. Importantly, this aligns with the College Vision of developing young men and women of character – leaders now and for the future.
Head of Junior School