Digital Health and Wellness…

It’s about balance…

This week I’m reading Digital Citizenship in Schools by Mike Ribble. (See excerpt here) Mike crafted the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship, and has put them into three categories:

Respect yourself and others
Digital Etiquette
Digital Access
Digital Law

Educate yourself and others
Digital Communication
Digital Literacy
Digital Commerce

Protect yourself and others
Digital Rights and Responsibilities
Digital Security and Self-Protection
Digital Health and Wellness

I wanted to focus here on the last one: Digital Health and Wellness. When computers first came out the focus was mostly posture and avoiding carpal tunnel. Now more than ever I think it means finding balance in our lives to make sure we aren’t ‘turned on’ to our digital devices and the virtual world all the time. When we can’t find a balance between our face-to-face real life and our virtual digital world we end up turning off our family and friends. Here’s a prime example: last week I was out at breakfast and in the booth next to me sat a family which in this case included a mother, father, teenager (I estimate about 13) and a younger girl about 6. When I looked over the whole family, minus the 6 year old who was trying to get everyone else’s attention, were plugged in. They all had their cellphones out and were busy engaged in whatever it was they were engaged with. What they weren’t engaged in was the family that sat just inches away from each of them. I wonder if this will have a big impact on how our children socialize and interact with others (and how they maintain relationships as they grow and mature).

I’ve said it before, everything comes down to relationships. So if this is true, then where will we be in 10-20 years when the majority of our communities have developed more digitally then face to face? Will we find more and more students not having the ability to communicate and maintain important relationships face to face? Will society start drifting away from face-to-face venues to instead isolate themselves in their homes, virtually connected to their digital social media communities and game worlds?

I like Jason Ohler’s activity from Digital Community, Digital Citizenship where he talks about helping students (and adults) be able to evaluate technology in their lives. If we can get students to see both sides of technology: how it connects and disconnects, then maybe they will be in a better position to balance their lives between their digital use and real life conversations, games and activities. In order to find our own balance we need to be aware of the technology in our lives, how it affects our life and how we can be true critical consumers of this technology. Telling students that being ‘plugged in’ all the time isn’t good for them won’t work. It needs to come from within them through analysis of the tech in their own lives and how it affects their lives (and those around them).

Questions to further ponder this:

How are you as an educator balancing your digital life with your real one?

What do the conversations sound like with your students about Digital Health and Wellness?

How is your district helping students understand this element?

And finally… a very short video from Norway that regardless of whether you speak the language, is understandable and maybe for far too many of us relatable….

‘Take a Break from Mobile’

When accountability becomes shaming…

We are seeing a new trend with social media and negative digital citizenship behaviors. ‘Digital Shaming’ takes digital accountability to an extreme level and multiples one mistake into many mistakes of ethical behaviors. The old adage ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ fits well here.

Here’s how it might play out:

  1. Someone makes a bad ethical choice, posting a stupid comment and/or picture.
  2. It makes others mad, who then repost, retweet and share, adding their own take on how terrible it is. (some of these include insults and threats)
  3. The whole event, which is out of context completely now, goes viral.
  4. The original person is shamed, some consequences being extreme due to the digital ‘magnifying’ of the incident.

As you can imagine the results can be disastrous. People have lost their jobs, professional and personal reputations, as well as other consequences including fearing for their lives due to threats. You might say that some deserve what they get. (and I would agree that there should be consequences to poor judgement) I would also agree that when mistakes are made those making them need to own up to their mistakes, take responsibility and move on. But when does the accountability become shaming and turn extreme and unethical in itself? Unfortunately when this plays out in the vast online world, it can become unethical fast.

For specific examples and a great overview of the issue read the following:

How one stupid tweet blew up Justine Sacco’s Life

From Public Shaming to Public Compassion

What lessons can we take away from this? (and what can we try to help students understand?)

First and foremost: THINK before you post (always put your best digital foot forward)
But if you make a mistake: delete it, own it (take responsibility) , make amends as needed, and grow from it.

If you see another’s mistake, don’t jump into the fray re-tweeting/re-posting and generally trash mouthing the person. If it is a friend have a frank conversation with them about their ethical digression and help them take responsibility and grow.