At family parties, the topic of Facebook and Twitter often come up. Usually the conversation will end by the older members of my family saying something such as, “I don’t use that! I don’t know how, and I never will need to.” I think there is a little ignorance behind those types of statements. The older members of my family may not need to spend their time online, but they need to face the reality that our world has become increasingly digital. Everyone is connected in some way. I found this chapter in The Digital Diet to be refreshing. The authors not only accept that a digital world is upon us, but they also discuss how to become a digital citizen.
I used to think that I was exposed to social media and online communication at an early age. Like several of my classmates, I had an AIM, MySpace, and Facebook account by the time I was in high school. I will admit that I was not a very good digital citizen. In middle school, I would log onto my friends’ AIM accounts, and sometimes pretended to be them when talking to other people. Sometimes I would find myself logged into a friend’s Facebook account if they had used a computer directly before me. It’s important to remember that so much information is shared online. People have access to such personal information, which probably would not be the case if these digital outlets did not exist. Even though I believe that I have been exposed to a lot of ways to communicate with others online, the kids who are ten years younger than me are immersed in a social media culture. They are on AIM, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc. at such a young age. Unfortunately these kids do not know how to use these digital outlets appropriately.
Students need to be taught how to use social media correctly. Who better to teach them than their teachers? If we actually utilize these types of digital media in the classroom, and model how to use them appropriately, students will learn from us. In turn, they will learn how to become digital citizens. I really like how this chapter provided a quick lesson on how we should teach our students to become digital citizens. I agreed strongly with the “respect yourself” and “protect yourself” portions of citizenship. So many times young students do not know how they are portraying themselves online. The way that they portray themselves online will stay with them for years. They also need to be aware of who they are talking to online. It is very easy for an innocent child to be targeted. Even though there are risks of being an active member of an online community, they are decreased when the user knows how to be a digital citizen.
I feel as if this chapter directly connected to me, because part of my job as a graduate assistant at Providence College is to manage the social media outlets for Friar Athletics. I am constantly on our Friar Faithful Facebook page at work, as well as our PC Athletics Twitter. I need to post on these outlets three to four times a day. When I post, I need to make sure that I am representing Providence College. I cannot present my own views, nor can I post anything inappropriate. I have found managing these social media outlets to be the toughest when we receive an “attack” from a fan. For example, when I held a contest on our Facebook page, fans that did not win became upset. Even though these fans do not know that I personally run the page, I became upset because their comments offended me. I had to put my emotions aside and respond in a way that best represented PC Athletics. On the other hand, coworkers in my office have been on our Twitter account and have sent out accidental tweets, which really offended some of our followers. Once the tweet was out there was no turning back, and we had to deal with the consequences. I feel as if social media will continue to grow as time goes on. Every person who is online needs to be educated to be a digital citizen.