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Digital Citizenship - Communication

Over the next couple of weeks our Junior High Learning Advisories are focusing on kind and effective digital communication. Advisories will be investigating how our communication affects ourselves, others and our wider community.

Our learners are dealing with many issues that their parents did not have to deal with themselves when growing up such as cyber bullying, inappropriate sharing of personal photos and videos, doxxing, and catfishing. It is really important that we and our learners understand what is involved in being a digital citizen who contributes to society and online communities in a positive manner and is aware of how to make appropriate choices in behavior and communication.

The CLOAK focus for this term is ‘O’ which stands for ‘Ourselves as Learners’. We all have a lot to learn about appropriate communication and the impact of the choices we make. As adults and caregivers we are the role models for appropriate online communication and many times as part of online social media communities I have come across negative and harmful comments. The THINK acronym can be a great reminder to stop and evaluate what you might be about to say, post or text:

T - Is it true?

H - Is it helpful?

I - Is it inspiring or does it improve the situation?

N - Is it necessary, or is it better left unsaid?

K - Is it kind, what is your motivation for saying/texting this?

We encourage you to continue to have discussions with your family about communication and how tricky it can be when we use devices. The message that is intended might be quite different to how it might be received. When we communicate in a digital format we can’t see the person and read their body language, therefore miscommunication can easily occur.

Albert Mehrabian came up with the 7-38-55 rule of personal communication. His studies suggested that we tend to work out our feelings, attitudes, and beliefs not by the actual words spoken (7%), but by the speaker’s tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%). Also if words and body language seem to contradict one another, we tend to believe the body language. So it is an important reminder that ‘how’ we say something is probably even more important than the words themselves. We do not have the non-verbal cues when communicating in a digital manner.

Our learners are also often still working out the difference between batter and bullying. Here are some tips from Netsafe that you could discuss with your whanau:

  • Is there only one person in on the joke?

  • Is the joke embarrassing, insulting or shaming towards another person?

  • Is the joke about someone’s gender, religion, sexuality, race, ethnicity, disability or other sensitive aspect of a person’s identity?

  • Has the person let you know (or is acting like) they don’t like it?

You can also check out some other useful articles from Netsafe:





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