Exploring Digital Citizenship

How young do we introduce digital citizenship?

One of my favorite traveling apps on my iPhone is Pocket. Just scroll through an endless sea of articles and with a click of the button, the article is saved for offline reading later. The latest Pocket article that got my attention: Is technology scrambling my baby’s brain? by Ben Popper of theverge.com. I read it with great interest, considering smartphones and laptops have already intrigued my 15-month-old son. In the article, Popper vents about technophobia, which is the demonization of narrative technology (smartphones, televisions, tablets, etc.). All Popper wants is his child to become tech savvy at an early age, but he gets resistance from his wife, his mother, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which recommends no screen time until the child is two years old.

Questions and Lenses

There’s no doubt we North Americans live in a digital world, so I wonder if no screen time for children under the age of two is a realistic expectation for every parent? Also, does keeping the child away from screens at an early age set an unrealistic expectation about their exposure to technology in the future? Finally, at what age should we start teaching the child digital citizenship?

In theverge.com article (September 2013), Popper says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) decreed in 2011 that exposure to screens is detrimental under the age of two. The word detrimental seemed like such strong language, so I dug a little deeper into this claim. I discovered two nuggets of information: 1) National Public Radio announced that the AAP updated its screen policy in October 2016; 2) The AAP’s no-screen recommendation was declared in 1999, not 2011. The AAP updated its digital media recommendations in this 2016 November article Media and Young Minds. This article does not use the word detrimental, but it does outline the consequences of exposing infants to digital media. Another article that resonated with me was published in Child Development called Toddlers’ Word Learning From Contingent and Noncontingent Video on Touch Screens. Most research I came across dealt with studies on television, but this article seems to be one of the best studies on toddlers using touch screens.

None of these articles mentioned above analyze the phrase digital citizenship. All four articles do, however, seem to address the nuts and bolts of what digital citizenship means: norms of appropriate and responsible behavior with regard to technology use (Douglas, 2014; Ribble, 2015).

Click here on this Make & Share to learn what I gathered about introducing digital citizenship at a young age.


Digital Citizenship, by kklott


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