Educators

  • Introduction

    • The digital wellbeing of younger generations begins truly with older generations of adults that set an example for students on how to navigate the digital world wisely.
    • Just as educators and schools play an essential role in raising students to become good citizens, in today’s digital age, educators and schools must embrace the digital age and learn how to raise positive digital citizens.
    • Importantly, raising positive digital citizens is a community effort. The roles of educators, parents, and caregivers are equally important and complement one another.
    • While new technology has opened many doors and created plenty of positive opportunities for children and youth to learn, connect, establish businesses, and more, it has also brought upon serious risks such as cyberbullying, online predators, peer pressure, and exposure to inappropriate content.
    • As safety is at the heart of digital wellbeing, educators and schools must join forces with parents and the community to help protect children from online harm and safety risks, and equip them with the knowledge and skills to prevent these challenges.
    • Naturally, younger generations born into the digital ageare more comfortable using technology. Growing up with Wi-Fi and being accustomed to the hyper-connectivity and digital overload, younger generations are clearly savvier with technology and digital innovations.
    • When it comes to education specifically, the digital world has really transformed the process of learning. Students, starting at a young age, are increasingly using the Internet and digital technologies as a source of learning.
    • but….are students using technology appropriately? Do they understand their roles and responsibilities in the digital society? 
    • A high resistance towards technology from educators and schools is common; many educators feel that embracing technology in schools is only a sheer distraction and waste of time. Yet, on the other hand, there are educators that have adopted digital technology in teaching and embedded digital citizenship in curriculums, and find it quite rewarding and beneficial. 
    • How can educators embrace digital education in a way that enhances students’ digital wellbeing and promotes digital citizenship? How can schools support educators in doing so? How can schools combine efforts with parents towards achieving these goals? Find out more below.
  • Raising educators’ awareness

    • First and foremost, as educators, we must begin with ourselves. It is worthwhile toinvest in ourselves and raise our own awareness on the concepts of digital wellbeing, digital citizenship and digital ethics, in addition to the laws governing the digital world. 
    • As difficult as it may be for teachers to start embracing the digital world and embedding it into their teaching, it is in their best interest to keep up with students and start speaking their language.
    • Explore the concepts of digital wellbeing, digital citizenship, and digital ethics on our platform as a first step to raising your own awareness, to later be capable of raising your students’ awareness.
    • We must also learn about the prominent challenges posed by the digital world to teach students about them, how to handle them, and report serious incidents. These challenges include managing screen time, online social networking, gaming, cyberbullying, online harm, online privacy, digital footprint, and more. Learn more about each digital challenge you or your students might be facing here, and know what signs to keep an eye out for. Remember that as technology changes every day, new challenges can come up.
    • It is essential to have a high level of awareness, to become well equipped and capable of role-modeling positive digital behavior for our students and the community.
    • Many students spend half their day at school, and see role models in teacher. Therefore, digital wellbeing needs to be reinforced both in schools and at home. 
  • Embracing digital citizenship and wellbeing in the curriculum

    • Today, the role of educators and schools is no longer limited to pure academics. Far beyond that, educators are increasingly focusing on the holistic wellbeing of the student, and digital wellbeing is a major part of students’ overall wellbeing. 
    • Educators care to build the skills and capacities of students. Today, the skills students need to manage their digital presence, flourish in the digital world, and protect their digital wellbeing to succeed in the future are of key importance and perhaps one of the most important skill sets they need.
    • The important role of the education sector lies mainly in: 

     

    1. Investing in teachers’ wellbeing first and foremost. For teachers’ to be able to give more and tend to their students’ wellbeing they need to be aware and capable of taking care of their own wellbeing.
    2. Training teachers and building their capacities to teach digital wellbeing, digital citizenship, and handling digital challenges.
    3. Embedding digital wellbeing and digital citizenship in the school curriculum. With well-equipped teachers, schools can confidently adopt digital wellbeing and digital citizenship in the school curriculum starting from a young age. The concepts of digital wellbeing, digital citizenship, digital ethics, and digital challenges can be embedded with both IT classes and moral education classes.
  • Adopting a Positive Approach

    • The digital world is here to stay; thus it is quite impractical to depend on using unhelpful scare-tactics and trying to eliminate students’ access to the digital world completely while at school. 
    • Rather than always focusing on the don’ts, it is more fruitful to focus on the do’s
    • It is completely normal that younger students are both heavy Internet users and more risk-prone; it is their natural mechanism for learning and discovering the world.
    • Children cannot be protected completely, but we can gently guide them on how to make the most out of the digital world, live by positive digital citizenship values, and create a positive digital footprint.
    • Rather than completely cutting of students’ internet connectivity, think of ways in which schools can use technology in a healthy and balanced way, ensuring that you expose them to other engaging technology-free or Wi-Fi free activities while at school.
    • Inspire students to contribute to the digital world in a way that brings out the best in them. Think of ways in which children’s curiosity can be fostered while allowing them to safely connect with the world, and fuel it into purposeful means of creation. Perhaps they may share their creative talents online by sharing an essay, artwork, or a musical piece, or share their progress in a certain sport they are passionate about.
    • That being said, it is still important for students to understand the serious consequences of their actions in the digital world and how their actions can impact others.
  • Get Involved

    • Lending an attentive ear to students goes a long way. Especially at a young age, students can be hinting to a serious issue not only by what they say but even by the way they behave. 
    • Watch out for any unusual behaviour in students as it may signal an issue that needs interference. This applies across all issues, but especially with digital challenges, the impact can be huge and can go viral in seconds. For instance, cyber bullying can be traumatizing to children and can haunt them even at home after school is over.
    • In relevant classes (IT and Moral Education for instance), try to have regular conversations with students about their use of digital media, and how they feel about it.
    • Show interest in students’ online behavior; engage with them and have open conversations about what they do online, who they speak to, what games they’re playing, and what they find attractive about the digital world.
    • Encourage children to immediately tell their teachers, parents or a trusted adult, if they are exposed to a scary or disturbing situation online. 
    • Reassure your students that you will not punish them or take away their devices if they tell you what they have done, even if they made a mistake that goes against what they are being taught, like saying something mean to someone online, or speaking to a stranger online.
    • Lastly, remember to keep the line of communication open no matter what.
  • Role-modeling

    • Everything discussed so far on raising positive responsible digital citizens, and educating students on digital wellbeing and digital challenges will be futile if educators, parents, and carers fail to role-model. The old excuse of “do as I say and not as I do” fails miserably here.
    • There is no doubt that children begin to imitate adult behavior at a very young age. With digital challenges, the same applies. More specifically, students typically idolize their teachers and look up to them with admiration starting at a very young age.
    • Leverage positively on your position as a teacher to show students examples of how you can use technology for good purposes that benefit yourself and others like listening to an audio book, or writing a blog post on your favorite recipe.
    • Encourage digital detox days(breaks from technology) and Digital Scrub Days (cleaning up digital footprint days)together as a school. Principals and teachers can lead by example in this, and be the first to put their phones and gadgets away.
  • Keeping up with Digital Innovations

    • Clearly, the digital world is a fast-paced world that is continuously changing. This highlights the need for us to try to stay as updated as possible with digital innovations and new technologies, to be able to relate to our students, and keep an eye out for any new digital risks out there.