Schools find ways to toughen children up for digital world

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Schools find ways to toughen children up for digital world

Educators in the UAE are saying digital natives can be very "naive" when it comes to protecting their privacy online.

By Sarwat Nasir

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Published: Sun 24 Feb 2019, 8:30 PM

Last updated: Sun 24 Feb 2019, 10:36 PM

If you think the real, physical world has problems, wait until you step into the digital world and see the 'struggles' many youngsters face on a daily basis.
Having the perfect selfie, the cleverly edited video, the right filter, most likes and comments, posting regularly - these make up a type of competition that comes as second nature to the Generation Z.
But with eagerness to be on top comes the danger of people willing to post some of the most private details of their lives to climb that endless social media ladder.
Take a look at Instagram pages such as 'Rich Kids', for example. Youngsters post their boarding passes, their cars' number plates, and even their live location. It's possibly a gold mine for a potential stalker or cybercriminals looking to do identity theft.
Educators in the UAE are saying digital natives can be very "naive" when it comes to protecting their privacy online, therefore, it's important for schools to educate them more than they already do.
Neal Oates, assistant head at the Dubai British School, said: "Digital ethics and privacy have become increasingly relevant for young people to consider. I often talk to students about their use of free Wi-Fi and signing up for different platforms. If someone was to ask for your phone number and address in the street, you would likely say no.
"Most students can tell you about how to stay safe online and not give away such information to strangers. However, if we want free
Wi-Fi, we are giving away a lot more personal information while using the service. Digital natives can be very naive about privacy, and so we must make an effort to educate them on these issues."
He said students leave a digital footprint online, and what they say or do "could haunt them in university applications or careers in the future".
"I have a similar conversation with parents. Young people can be very naive and easily manipulated as they do not have the experience and emotional intelligence of an adult. We have an age restriction of 13 on many forms of social media for a reason. Would you as a parent allow your child to be in a room full of adult strangers with no supervision or restriction? If not, consider the implication here for early access to social media and a lack of parental oversight over your child's device," Oates added.
Besides privacy, education on digital ethics is also a growing trend in classrooms. It's become too easy to plagiarise someone else's work, steal another user's online information, create a fake profile, or even sell a person's online identity.
Giles Pruett, head of secondary school at GEMS World Academy (GWA), said there are online platforms that fight against plagiarism in academic work.
"With the rapid rise of digital resources available to students, this is an ever-growing concern, however, examination and assessment groups are also trying to support schools in combating these issues by promoting the use of digital tools and platforms, such as turnitin.com," she said.
"Most schools today have very strong ethical policies and support programmes that are designed to protect children from the dangers of digital media, particularly within a social context, but also pertaining to their privacy and the rights of others.
Common Sense Media is one such organisation that provides schools with important resources and learning programmes to assist in delivering high-quality support that focuses on digital ethics.
At GWA Dubai, we use these resources in conjunction with advisory discussions and student assemblies to ensure that ethical behaviours are developed at an age-appropriate level."
sarwat@khaleejtimes.com

Pupils take special classes, exams for online ethics
Students aren't just getting lectures about the safe usage of social media, they are now being given tests and exams on the subject, which count towards their final class grade.
Some pupils have shared how they are required to take a pledge to be a better digital citizen, and given exams in class on using the Internet safely and ethically.
A student at Gulf Model School in Dubai, Regan Dsouza, said: "The information technology special classes for students in secondary level cover the types of digital ethics and privacy. In fact, we have tests on this subject. In the world of accelerating technology and media, the new generation easily gets caught up with it without knowing its pros and cons."
Dhanvi Sayani, a student at GEMS Our Own English High School in Dubai, said pupils at her school have taken a pledge to be responsible Netizens. They also take tests that guide them on how to use social media responsibly.
"As the use of social media among teenagers rises, such that there is no way you can stay away from it, our school has made sure that their students are safe online by teaching them digital ethics and privacy," she said.
"We are made aware of the different types of cyber bullying and how to face it. We are also taught the rules and values that should be followed on social media. We have learned about things like digital footprint and cyber safety. And we students also write tests for this on the 'Commonsense Media', so our teachers know how reliable we can be online.
"We had also taken a pledge at school to use social media wisely. We have had assemblies, workshops and sessions where students are reminded about the dangers that exist online, and how we can stay safe by following a few simple rules on the digital podiums we have been provided with."
sarwat@khaleejtimes.com




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