Digital Identity and Recognition
Part 1 of “Natural Born Digital Citizens?” raised the question of creating a digital identity for our children before they have the ability to take ownership of it. One of the issues raised in both articles linked in that post was facial recognition in photos online. Both articles argued against posting photos of children in part because of the ability of some websites to recognize faces and track people.
This is a potential issue not only for the younger generation but also for those who are acting and interacting online now. It goes beyond facial recognition. Bibliography websites offer to scan your paper for plagiarism—which means they can recognize published works nested in other works. Apple Music transfers users’ iTunes libraries to the cloud, not by copying them but by linking them to files that are already there, whether or not the files are an exact match—which means they can recognize songs, even if they are different recordings. The ability for online entities to recognize and organize people and things, correctly or incorrectly, could eventually confuse identity and stifle creativity.
What are the implications for digital citizenship if digital identity depends on recognition, especially if recognition can go wrong?
Digital Citizenship and Children, part 2
My wife shared an interesting article with me over the weekend from Business Insider titled, “Science says parents of unsuccessful kids could have these 9 things in common.” Linked to the end of it was the inverse article: “Science says parents of successful kids have these 13 things in common.“
Two of the things that parents do wrong, according to the first article, are of interest to our class. The first is allowing “screen time” too young. The second is parents using their cellphones around their kids. I am guilty of both. We don’t have TV, so my son doesn’t get to watch much. But one guaranteed way to chill him out if he is having a meltdown is to let him watch “Mahna Mahna,” often on loop. And my wife and I keep our phones constantly on our persons. I compulsively check my email. But my phone also supplies music for our adventures and is my camera, so he has a relationship with it, too.
If, as Science tells us, early screen time and parent cellphone use are counter-indicators for children’s success, how do we teach our children good digital social skills? If modeling and practice are both discouraged, what is left to do? This is also interesting for our roles as teachers. How we personally engage in our digital citizenship, not just in terms of lessons and planning, in the presence of our students must have an influence.
I teach adults. I find that many of those who are just out of high school or who didn’t finish high school do not have good digital fluency or etiquette. How do we model that for them, if we are trying to be professional by leaving our cellphones at our desks when we teach and pretending not to be socially engaged online?
Digital Citizenship and Children, part 1
I have a one-year-old son. If you go to my Facebook profile, you will see a few pictures of him from right after he was born and from the first time we brought him to Hoo Doo with us when he was six weeks old. My profile picture has him in it, too, from when he was five months old. But there are no pictures of him since. We aren’t lazy; we have just decided not to post pictures of him.
We are not alone. Other parents share concerns about their children’s digital identity and digital citizenship. How much will be determined for them if the internet already has a record of them when they get to be old enough to be autonomous? These two articles discuss this concern in some detail.
What do we owe our children in terms of anonymity? Is connectedness more important? Perhaps more interestingly for our discussion: will this even matter in ten or twenty years? The internet is evolving at such a rate that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Google might not exist when my son is in high school.