Apps will come and go
Being a good digital citizen means we know how to behave, we model that behavior and continually encourage and support that behavior in our students. It isn’t about the apps. The problem isn’t the apps out there that are becoming more and more focused on anonymous posting. New apps will always be trending, almost raising in popularity overnight. Just in the last 2 years we’ve seen facebook losing popularity with teens, Instragram gaining and Snapchat, Kik, Yik Yak and now Streetchat becoming common. With all of these apps there is the possibility of students sharing something that is inappropriate. All of them have the potential of students bullying others 24/7. Snapchat is a messaging app that claims the images sent are temporary, but with screenshots and third-party apps any image can be archived and shared anywhere. Yik Yak and Streetchat are local social networks that allow the sending of anonymous posts, that get voted on. They both use geo-location to find those around you that are using the app making this social network app more targeted to schools and local communities. Every time the app is opened the phone’s GPS locator is activated and sends out your message, or image, to others in the area that are also using these apps. Both of them have also been linked to inappropriate content and bullying. Something of course you could probably say for 95% of the apps in the digital world.
How do I keep up?
When parents and teachers ask me this I let them know about Commonsensemedia.org This is the first site I go to to learn new apps or trends. But I also let them know that although it is important to know the apps your child/students are using, it isn’t the most important thing. The most important thing is the relationships we build with our students/children. These relationships allow us to keep the communications open so that they feel comfortable talking to us about their digital experiences. No matter what app they are using we want them to think about their actions and feel good about their digital input. Being a good citizen both in the physical world and the digital one, whether they can be anonymous or not, is the most important thing.
So, yes take the time to know about the current apps, but more importantly openly talk about being a good digital citizen, model being a good citizen and role play solutions to difficult, inappropriate or dangerous situations students may become involved in online.