Our children are using social media sites younger and younger. At Westshire we have decided that teaching children about the opportunities and risks of using social media cannot wait until the middle grades.
Digital media and technology is evolving at a dizzying pace, bringing with it extraordinary opportunities as well as real risks for our children. On the positive side, young people are using the immense power of the Internet and mobile technologies to create, connect, explore, and learn in ways never before imagined. On the negative side, harmful behaviors aided by digital technology, from cyberbullying to digital cheating, are surfacing in schools and in homes across the country. Young people face ethical challenges daily without a roadmap to guide them. And many of us — parents and teachers alike—are struggling with how to help kids thrive in this brave new world.
We teach lessons about Media Literacy using the Common Sense Media Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum.
The underlying message of the curriculum is one of empowerment: With powerful digital tools of creation and communication comes great responsibility. The curriculum centers on the digital ethics research of Dr. Howard Gardner and The GoodPlay Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Their model of ethical thinking stresses the responsibilities that one has online to oneself, friends and family, and to the online community as a whole. Students also think critically about how they treat others in this fast-paced digital world, and they learn to use the Internet in legal, ethical, and responsible ways. Here is an overview of the unit topics.
What we teach:
Safety—Students learn that there are exciting places to go online, but that they should choose safe, age-appropriate sites.
Security—Students learn strategies for keeping their information secure online, and identify online scams and schemes.
Digital Life---Students reflect on the upside and downside of digital media, on the place of digital media in their lives, and about how to be upstanding digital citizens.
Connected Culture-- Students explore what happens when children gang up on one another online, what to do if they experience cyberbullying.