3 Ways to Reinforce Digital Citizenship with SEL

Technology has transformed nearly every aspect of our lives — and schools are no exception. It deeply impacts how students learn, access information, and communicate and interact with others. Social and emotional skills are critical to helping students learn how to be good digital citizens. These skills give students the tools they need to navigate digital situations responsibly while protecting themselves and others.

Below are three areas of digital citizenship to focus on, and how to use SEL to reinforce good digital behavior.

Cyberbullying: The Cyberbullying Research Center estimates that 33.8% of 12-17-year-olds have been victims of cyberbullying. The effects of bullying can be devastating, causing depression, disrupted eating and sleeping patterns, loneliness, and decreased interest in activities. Online bullying can be especially harmful for a number of reasons: attacks can have a wider reach, it may be more difficult to stand up to bullies in a digital space, and anonymous posting can make it difficult to identify — and stop — aggressors.

How SEL can help: Increasing students’ self-confidence, empathy and respect for others, and feelings of social acceptance and security can help reduce bullying in all forms. Click here for ideas on how to promote an anti-bullying culture in schools and the classroom. Also share this video with students and discuss the speaker’s research on the powerful effects of responsible decision-making.

Discerning What’s Real or Not: Digital citizenship and information literacy go hand-in-hand. Students need to be able to find information, determine its legitimacy, and use it responsibly. The Internet gives license to anyone who wants to post information, regardless of its accuracy. This means that now more than ever, students need to use critical thinking to parse information and determine if it’s based on facts.

How SEL can help: Information-literate students rely on a variety of SEL constructs, including communication, analyzation, problem-solving, evaluation, reflection, and ethical responsibility. Focus on building these skills with students to promote healthy digital citizenship. Share this article with students, and have a conversation about how SEL can help students discern real news from “fake news.”

Responsible Posting: Students must protect themselves in digital environments. They need to understand the consequences of posting an inappropriate picture on the web, accessing illegitimate websites, and sharing private information online. Unwanted exposure could affect future outcomes, such as career or college entrance opportunities, and may invite predators.

How SEL can help: Self-reflection, evaluation, and impulse control can help students make responsible decisions about what they share and reveal about themselves on the Internet. This handout provides some basic rules promoting Internet safety. Share these guidelines with students and discuss ways to reduce risky online behavior through self-regulation and responsible decision-making.

The rise of technology has created a need to teach students how to protect themselves and others in digital environments. Social and emotional skills can help youth decipher information to determine what’s real, prevent cyberbullying, and protect themselves by knowing what not to share on the Internet. Need more tips on how SEL can promote good digital citizenship? Contact our experts at Aperture Education to learn more.

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