Photograph “Yeah!” by Jenah Crump Photography (Flickr) under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.
I have a confession to make. I find the whole notion of digital citizenship to be quite clinical and cold. Take the dictionary definition of citizenship, for example. It is “the state of being vested with the rights, privileges, and duties of a citizen.” It doesn’t exactly read like poetry, does it? To me, it sounds more like a medical diagnosis.
However, in a recent article by Jason Ohler, the phrase “digital health” caught my attention. He states
We need to talk to children about how to live digital lifestyles that are informed, safe, and healthy. We need to set this discussion within the context of encouraging students to develop the many social and professional opportunities that the digital world provides. This discussion needs to happen at school as well as at home.
There is something very appealing in Ohler’s words. Is it because he is speaking about a way of being and living, instead of a set of rules to be followed? Is it because his approach seems more proactive than reactive? Maybe it is just Ohler’s choice of language, but the idea of creating a digitally healthy society appeals to me.
Within our school, we are fortunate to have a Mental Health Capacity Building Initiative. A team of wellness professionals work with students and staff on four areas of a wellness wheel – physical (body), spiritual, (beliefs), emotional (feelings), and psychological (mind). When it comes to digital health, I see connections to all four spokes in the wellness wheel.
Perhaps our focus for teaching digital skills should be on health and wellness rather than rights and duties.
Ohler, J. (2011). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(1), 25-27.