We, as law-abiding citizens and adults, would NEVER allow people to drive on our roads without being tested and certified. And we set age limits on obtaining a driver’s license.
Why is that? Cars can kill, and drivers are (at this point) solely responsible for that vehicle. If you injure or kill a pedestrian or have a collision, the world is turned upside down for a long time. Trauma, disruption of lives, hurt feelings, legal ramifications, etc. So we would naturally take the precautions to ensure that the drivers would understand the rules of the road along with having the skill to drive defensively, understand the environment around them, etc.
What is the difference between that and using social networking while in school (or for that matter anywhere)? If students were required to take a course and a test prior to working their technology in the school, there would be no more excuses like “I didn’t know that post would cause this?!” and similar phrases.
What?! Compare the driving of a multi-ton piece of steel (or plastic) to a social networking post?! What kind of comparison is that?!
Let’s take just one example. A student posts a very unflattering post to their social networking page. It trends and ends up destroying the fellow student. You can call it cyber bullying, cyber libel, anything you want. The other student at the crux of this post is not only mortified, but decides to either retaliate or else do self-harm. Either way, we get back to hurt feelings, trauma, disruption of lives, legal ramifications, etc. Sound familiar (see above)? What about cybersecurity in all this? What if I (Student A) decide that Student B is my friend. Student B asks me for my password to my social networking site to “seal the deal” of friendship. I, not wanting to ruin the friendship, give the password to Student B. The next day, Student B tells Student C the password since Student C is Student B’s friend, but Student A’s enemy (my enemy). Now I have someone that wants to do me harm having my password. Bad news but something the certification course can address.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are trying to close the barn door after the horse is long gone. We have programs to keep students safe, but they are sometimes disjointed and address problems in a non-mandatory form and format. I remember the “anti-marijuana” movies when I was in middle school and high school and used to laugh at them (most of us did, openly). Half of them were presented by known drug users, so what was the message here?
Give the courses as part of the beginning of every school year and make it stick. Get the School Board involved and establish ground rules for using technology in the school (whether it is after class or on school grounds). Establish a curriculum and make the student and parents sign a certification statement. I am not sure if any school districts do this now, but it would do two things: (1) It would set the standards, and (2) It would serve as an ethics foundation for the future. In other words, it would teach the would-be “black hats hackers” of the future some basic ethics that would help them in the future to understand their accountability in the world of cyber and cybersecurity.
There are those that will probably disagree with this post and that is fine. Disagreement and refinement is part of what life is about. If this helps just one child to be a better cyber citizen, then it is worth it. My philosophy is L.O.V.E. (learn, offer, value, and educate). I want to offer my ideas and learn in the process.