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New Digital Citizenship Class Teaches Middle Schoolers Good Social Media Habits

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Carson King has been the talk of the town since the Cy-Hawk game. But it was just over a week ago that some of his old tweets resurfaced, and led to many other conversations including how we conduct ourselves on social media. A local middle school is using this incident as a lesson for their new “Digital Citizenship” class.

“It’s a good way to say… see what we are telling you is true. Everything can come back when… whatever you put online; it doesn’t go away. And so, it’s really important you represent yourself the way you want to be known in the future,” Goodrell Middle School’s Design and Business Technology Teacher Marco Arreola said.

The class not only talks about what you are posting online it also talks about the content you may see online and reporting cyberbullying to a parent or teacher or even the platform.

Every social media platform has a way to report bullying, racist or harmful content to the platform itself. This has the potential for the abuser’s account to be removed.

But they also teach that not everything about social media is bad or isolating, a big focus in the class is working together through social media and technology.

“You can actually still collaborate in a meaningful way and face to face, but use technology as a tool to extend that, not just as a barrier between people,” Arreola said.

The class also focuses on how to balance technology and real life.

“For students to look at their phone and say wow eight hours today I’ve been on my phone and not interacting with other people in real life or doing something else, that’s a really big shocker to them and most of them underestimate how often they’re on their technology,” Arreola said.

This class tries to make middle school students aware of what drives them to pick up their phones so often so hopefully, they can begin to recognize that habit.

However, technology is the way the world is moving so this class is also teaching students how to best represent themselves online as well as teaching them what to look out for on the internet.

Arreola said the FTC just released a study saying millennials are the age group that is most likely to report losing money to online scams.

“So to me that just highlights that although it’s kind of counter-intuitive to what we would think… we have to do a better job of educating the younger generations on what to look for, how to avoid it when it comes to doing things online,” Arreola said.

Parents can help curb your child’s social media habits at home by limiting technology time, especially at dinner and before bed. As well as friending or following your child on social media. You might not be able to see private messages but at least you have a general idea about what they are posting.

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