To educate and mentor students effectively, we need to understand the realities of their lives. Cyber-bullying issues that arose last semester underscore that today’s student experience is not the same as it was in our college days, or even five years ago.
Much of our students’ lives is now digital. Furthermore, emerging digital communication media used daily by our students provides the ability to publish instantaneously and anonymously – unfiltered – to anyone and everyone. This sets the stage for unchecked cruelty and enables personal attacks that may be sexist, racist, or just plain malicious.
In meetings I had with students on this topic, they expressed a lack of guidance in navigating these uncharted waters. It is clear that we can no longer ignore the growing chasm between our lives and the hyper-digital lives of our students. We must be aware of digital communication tools, the role they play, and the impact they have. When possible, we must teach our students how to communicate effectively and maturely through digital media.
We don’t all have to become technophiles in order to teach our students responsible digital communication. We can each do our part to create a culture of civility, accountability and respect for self and others.