Developing Digital Citizens

Photo credit: Common Sense Media

Photo credit: Common Sense Media

We beat stupidity celebration cones. #zimmerman #defense #dadkilledit

Over the summer, George Zimmerman’s defense attorney Don West had to apologize to the media for his daughter’s immature and insensitive Instagram post in the middle of a very heated George Zimmerman trial. After receiving national media attention, the photo of the lawyer enjoying ice cream cones with his daughters instantly went viral, and Molly West’s Instagram account had to be shut down the following day.


How do we help teach kids that something they do online today could potentially affect the future in ways they can’t even imagine? We need to help them understand the power of their digital footprint. Everything they post, share, or like is a direct reflection of themselves and their values. And it’s potentially out there for the world to see forever. Just ask Molly.

Developing responsible digital citizens is everyone’s job, but how do kids gain trusted experience in this vast online desert? It’s so easy to take a wrong turn, and the results can be dangerous and scary.

The new FLVS Social Media course challenges middle and high school students to explore their individual contributions and influential powers by identifying their digital imprint. By understanding this influence, they begin to see the ways in which their online activities can impact other individuals and society.

And what about the really young kids? Right now, more than 5 million Facebook users are under the age of 10. And of those 5 million users, 20 percent have posted their real names. 1 Facebook requires users to be at least 13 years old to build a profile, so many younger kids are fudging their ages to be able to communicate with their friends online. These young kids need a safe online neighborhood where they can learn the basics about Internet safety.

GromSocial is a social networking site made for kids, by kids. It’s a safe, monitored environment that helps to teach kids how to use social media appropriately. Being a Grom means you are responsible and above the influence of peer pressure—absolutely no smoking, no drugs, and no bullies. Should you make an inappropriate post, a Grom Helper will contact you about your actions.

We know we can’t dismiss the power of social media. It’s not going away, and it will continue to revolutionize the way we communicate. Helping our kids learn about responsible digital actions will help empower them to use these online tools to make good choices. Together, we need to guide students to make smart, safe, and ethical decisions in their digital worlds.


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Digital Citizenship Week is October 21-25, 2013. Find resources and infographics about teaching your students to make intentional decisions and be responsible digital citizens on our Digital into Digital Education pinboard on Pinterest.

 1 Five Surprising Social Media Statistics for 2013,

Post by Melissa Wurzel, Former FLVS Executive Director of Marketing & Communications 

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