Can we be people of character in a connected world?
Every day we read about students, staff and administrators that post, Tweet or share something that, in retrospect, they wished they had not. We’ve fallen into the practice of sending whatever we want out to the world and hoping for the best. When asked, “Why would you post something like that?” the answer is often “I thought it would be funny,” “I was just kidding,” or “Who would ever see my post/Tweet/image?”
Here’s the reality: We are now connected digitally to one another and we need to understand that if we post something there might be consequences.
How do we address these issues? I have found that there are three areas we need to be aware before sharing: respect, educate and protect or REP.
- If we have respect for ourselves and others then why would we say things about them or post images we might regret? Have empathy for others; think about how a post or Tweet might affect them.
- Ignorance is no excuse for poor online behavior. Learn about the technologies you use, educate yourself and those around you how these tools work. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way when using technology.
- Guard yourself, your good name and the reputations of others. Do we have the right to speak out against others that we do not agree with? We do, but not at the expense of their reputation or those around them.
There is now a thin line between funny and hurting others. In the digital world it is hard to judge how someone might feel or react to what is said or posted. Take a moment, take a breath, and think about how someone else might view what you are going to share. Sometimes “delete” is a better choice than “send.”
Mike Ribble is the director of technology for the Manhattan-Ogden Public Schools in Manhattan, KS. He has been working on the topic of digital citizenship for over a decade. Ribble’s work includes the books “Digital Citizenship in Schools, 2nd Edition” and “Raising a Digital Child.” He is also co-leader for the Digital Citizenship Professional Learning Network for ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). Ribble has presented both in the United States as well as internationally on the topic of digital citizenship.