The New Breed of Digital Citizen

We now live in the digital age. But it still a period of transition and we continue to adjust expectations for modes of behavior and struggle to understand what values should be kept from the old age and what new values should be developed for modern times. To that end, a new term has begun to be used: “digital citizenship.” A Thursday morning panel will help attendees better understand this concept. To help provide the proper background, here is a guest post from the Senior Director of Cable in the Classroom, Frank Gallagher.

Cable in the ClassroomDigital citizenship is a term we’re starting to hear more and more often from policy makers, Internet safety advocates and education organizations.  In a nutshell, it is a way to address many of the risks children face in the digital world in a positive and proactive way that also teaches them how to be safe, thoughtful, effective users of the wonderful tools and services available via broadband.

Digital citizenship has an attraction to each of supporting groups for similar reasons – as a nation, we have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in wires, plant and equipment to deliver broadband and billions more to provide computers and connectivity in schools.  If schools and students are to take full advantage of that investment, and if we are to prepare children for college, careers and civic life in the 21st Century, we can’t just talk about “safety” and can’t just prohibit, block and filter.  Rather, we must, from a very early age, be helping kids learn the proper ways to behave, interact, create, and collaborate in digital spaces.

I have seen schools where this has been done, where there are no filters, where the kids know the rules and expectations and have internalized them.  They are responsible digital citizens who are using their tools, technology, and broadband connections to learn how to all of the kinds of tasks, using all of the critical thinking skills that will be required for careers in the future.

As a nation, as educators, as members of the industry that is the largest provider of broadband, we all have an interest in seeing kids and families learning how to use the wonderful tools and content they have available at the click of a mouse.  We want them to use our products and services in safe and effective ways.  We want them to be effective communicators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and citizens.  They can’t do that if we block, filter and don’t talk about the applications that kids use every day outside of school.  We can help shape the development of the next generation in positive, productive directions if we adopt the digital citizenship model.

To that end, Cable in the Classroom, the industry’s education foundation, is moderating a panel on this topic, Growing Up Digitally: Citizenship in the Broadband Age.  We’ll talk about the abc’s of digital citizenship, why it is important to the cable industry, policymakers and communities, and what actions are on the horizon.  It’s also the first step in Cable in the Classroom’s new direction.  CIC will be devoting substantial time and resources to working with others to help develop the concept of digital citizenship, collect and syndicate resources, and take the lead in advocacy.  Come join us.


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