Today, children and young adults are surrounded by technology. Constant connectivity to a device is simply a way of life. The challenges at hand for parents and educators is how to prepare young people to be safe, develop interpersonal skills, have healthy relationships and be emotionally prepared for a digital world. Further, children are able to gain almost unrestricted access to the Internet at increasingly younger ages.

In response to very real concerns about student safety and emotional health, the Digital World initiative was designed and piloted in 2016.

The objectives of this program include:

  • Understanding of the Digital World. Students begin to realize the enormity and impact of their online life.
  • Critically think about shared Information. Students will analyze all potential risks regarding the information that they are sharing online.
  • Students will understand ‘public’ vs ‘private’ information, ‘friending’ habits, and how to handle online situations or behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Friendships. Students will learn about online etiquette (netiquette), the difference between teasing and cyber bullying, and the impact that online behavior can have on friendship.

Sample Activity: Six Click Challenge (Netsmartz Inc.)

A classroom instructor asks for a couple of volunteers who have numerous social media platforms. Knowing minimal information about each student, such as first name and school, the instructor performs six searches (clicks) or less in an attempt to gain details about the volunteers that they did not share.

Most of the time, the instructor can find out many personal and private facts about the students within 6 clicks. Students are shocked to see how what appears to be harmless information can affect their anonymity when the instructor suddenly knows their dog’s name, for example. Our goal is to have students think critically about what they post, be aware of how seemingly innocent information can be used, and the importance of using privacy settings.