“I have the right to freely express my mind.”
We keep noticing that statement all the time when people defend the words they express on the Internet. It’s no wonder why we see offensive comments on almost every popular Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram posts. It’s just people expressing their minds, believing they have every right to do so.
Internet users seem to be somewhat aware of their rights. In fact, they are exaggerating the rights all the time. But what about their responsibilities?
The involvement in any community involves two main elements: rights and responsibilities. When you’re teaching your students to become responsible citizens, you must keep reminding them of the main rule: “Your rights end where mine begin.” You have the right to live your life as you choose, as long as you’re not violating someone else’s rights with your actions. The same concept goes for digital citizenship. Your students have the right to be themselves on the Internet, but they also have a responsibility to respect other people’s rights.
Since digitalization is taking over modern education, your students clearly have the right to use the Internet. You, on the other hand, have a responsibility to teach them how to do it properly.
Define the Digital Responsibilities Digital responsibilities come in two aspects: being mindful of the rights of other people, and making sure to protect your own rights.
🔴 How to Teach the Essentials of Digital Rights and Responsibilities
Set Some Limits
Policy-makers find it challenging to define the sliding scale of rights and responsibilities in the digital environment for students at a different age. The students in kindergartens cannot have the same rights and responsibilities as students in higher grades. By Grade 12, the student is expected to know what digital citizenship is.
As a teacher, you’re the one who needs to identify a scale for your own students. How far are they ready to go? How freely can they use the Internet without endangering their security?
🔴 Define the Digital Rights
Regardless of your students’ level and age, there are universal digital rights they should be aware of:
- They can speak their minds. The Internet is a place where they will most likely find like-minded individuals. They have every right to make connections, express respectable opinions or ask questions.
- They can show their creations to the world. If they wrote an essay, they can publish it online. If they painted a picture or took a nice photograph, they can share it. They can start their own blogs, too.
- They have the right to timely and correct information. They can find information if they rely on the search engine and carefully evaluate the sources it leads to.
- They have every right to create their online persona. They do not have to express their personality faults online if they don’t want to do that. Still, you should recommend them to stay genuine when using the Internet.
- Internet users have the right to ask for data protection. In light of the recent Facebook scandal, they have every right to know how the company is using their information.
🔴Define the Digital Responsibilities
Digital responsibilities come in two aspects: being mindful of the rights of other people, and making sure to protect your own rights.Teaching about digital responsibilities demands a lot of effort, since young students are willing to put any information about themselves online, and they can often misinterpret freedom of speech with the “right” to bully.
A teacher needs to clearly define the responsibilities that Internet use imposes:
- “Who is looking at my data? Should I trust any website with my data?” These are the most important questions anyone should ask themselves before using the Internet. No; your students should not trust any website with their data. They have the right to data protection, but they also have a responsibility to keep their data safe. You must warn them never to use their parents’ credit cards online. They should never share their address or any private information publically or with people they don’t know. If they are using Facebook, recommend them to avoid the check-in feature.
- Your students must respect other people’s privacy. They shouldn’t share other people’s photos or any of their information without their consent.
- This is the main rule on how to act in the online community: just act as you would in your real surroundings. If you’re nice and kind to others, you can expect the same kind of treatment back at you.
- They do not have any right to bully or harass other people online. They should never use the mask of anonymity to do so.
- Anonymity is not a protection. Discuss the concept of IP addresses and explain that if they do something wrong in the online community, they can easily be identified and located.
- Talk about plagiarism. Your students have the right to find information online, but they do not have the right to copy it and present it as their own. This issue is extremely important in terms of academic writing.
- Talk about spamming, too. Your students should not send irrelevant or inappropriate email messages to a large number of people, and they should not make irrelevant comments on blog or social media posts. Teach them about the responsibility to make meaningful contributions to the online community.
🔴 Teach about Digital Citizenship; It’s One of Your Responsibilities
With the proper understanding of the digital citizenship concept, the Internet becomes a beneficial environment, where your students can gain knowledge and express themselves. As a teacher, you have a responsibility to help your students gain the skills to participate in the online community, communicate with others, and consume and create high-quality digital content.
Everything starts by bringing awareness to the issue of digital rights and responsibilities. Fortunately, most students are thrilled to learn about anything related to the Internet, so they will probably be eager to learn these things.
Sophia Anderson is an associate educator, blogger and freelance writer at AU Best Essays. She is passionate about covering topics on learning, writing, business, careers, self-improvement, motivation and others. She believes in the driving force of positive attitude and constant development. Talk to her on Facebook.