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What Students have Taught Us this 2012/2013 School Year


The 2012/2013 school year provided us with all kinds of opportunities to share our message of internet and social media safety to hundreds of thousands of students. What I love about what we do? Learning is always a two-way street and in the process we have learned a lot from the students, as we know they learned from us. Here are the top 10 things we learned this year from students in BC:

  • More and more students are becoming digital first responders. Rather than just sitting back and doing nothing when they see a friend online in trouble or needing help, they are now coming to their aid or connecting with an adult who can assist. Rather than becoming by-standers, students are becoming up-standers, which tells me that education on this specific topic is working.

  • Students are becoming more “digital homesteaders” rather than “digital pathfinders.” Rather than participating in every social network (or just one) out there, students are staying more loyal to a handful of “diverse” social networks, each one of which fulfills a specific personal online need.

  • Even though it is clear that most students are “digital citizens,” it does not mean that they are “digitally literate.” Digital literacy education needs to remain a priority both at home and at school. This is especially important at the elementary school level where students in grades 1 and 2 now have access to Smartphones and iPads. Technology is only a tool; we can determine its function & value because it’s a conscious choice to do so. Research has shown, however, that without good digital literacy education, it becomes more challenging for students to make the right online choices.

  • The top 5 social networks this school year here in BC, in order, were: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and then Tumblr. The two most popular social networking tools being used were Snapchat and Ask.fm.

  • There is no doubt that the number one way that students access the internet and social networking is via a personal mobile device. Students are steadily moving away from desktops and laptops, and moving to their Smartphones as their primary way to access the internet and social networks.

  • More schools/teachers are starting to integrate technology into the classroom and/or allowing students to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to class. Although exciting to see, without proper policy and procedures in place to govern such use in a classroom, it can become problematic with students using their devices in a less than desirable way such as surfing during lectures, sending messages to one another in class, and using their devices to cheat on exams. These are all things that students have shared with us that are taking place in some classrooms in our province.

  • Students love to use tech to build relationships, create content, and search new things, but the number one things that students love to do with their tech is to SHARE with others. Sharing too much information can come with a cost however, thus why we need to compound the message that everything that we post online, no matter what our privacy settings, is public, permanent, and very searchable by anyone and everyone.

  • Students are still concerned about bringing undesirable online situations to the attention of their parents, given their belief that a parent will take away their tech as a way to deal with the issue/situation. This point integrates with the next point.

  • Most students have reported that parents are still disengaged when it comes to everything tech. This is another reason why a student will not turn to their parent for online help or guidance, because often the parent is not a digital citizen, or even digitally literate. Parents need to become tech engaged, abdication on this issue is nothing more than willful blindness and will do nothing to keep your child safer online.

  • Most students here in BC are GOOD digital citizens doing super, uber cool things online. Yes, there are some that are not, but this is definitely not the norm.

Beth, Brandon, and I had a great time this school year sharing our message of internet and social media safety with students, teachers, parents, counselors, and law enforcement, and the 2013/2014 schools year is already shaping up to be even a busier school year for us as a company. We can’t wait to share our message, but even more importantly, I can’t wait to see what the students are going to share with us! Digital Food For Thought

Darren Laur

AKA “The White Hatter” #thewhitehatter


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