Social and emotional learning (SEL) is “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
In other words, SEL impacts our relationships — whether within a school, profession, community, or social network. Teaching these lessons at early ages helps students create and maintain positive and safe online and offline environments. On May 17th, After School’s Safety Team (@SafetyonSocial) participated in the ISTE Digital Citizenship PLN hosted live Twitter chat on SEL and digital citizenship. Led by Dana K Cox, the discussion featured six questions, focusing on how to teach youth key aspects of SEL and digital citizenship. Questions asked included:
- Social and Emotional Learning is a movement in today’s schools. In what ways does promoting digital citizenship overlap the same concepts?
- Making constructive choices about behavior and interaction through social media can be a challenge for our students. Is it possible for teachers to influence their choices? How?
- What are some ways to promote self-control in the use of technology?
- What are some resources or projects educators can use to lead our students in taking the perspective of others with diverse backgrounds and cultures?
- So many of our children struggle with self-confidence. Please share ideas for promoting positive self-confidence using technology?
- Negotiating conflict constructively is a challenge, maybe even more so digitally. How can we model or facilitate negotiation using technology?
From the conversation, here are 5 takeaways on teaching SEL and digital citizenship to youth.
Young people are molded by their experiences. Social media platforms reach them after they have developed the majority of their beliefs and behaviors with respect to communicating with others. As a result, social networks and online resources have a limited impact on shaping teens’ thinking on social and emotional issues.
Reaching them early to teach SEL concepts including empathy, self-confidence, and negotiation is key. Teaching basic concepts at early ages will have a significant impact on them and pay dividends for society and the communities they participate in.
Involve Students in the Process
When teaching students how to use technology properly they should be involved in the process, according to chat participant Nancy Watson.
At After School, we involve teens in the process of building and maintaining our app. Each month we interview users, we also employ and bring in teen interns to make sure that their voice is being taken into consideration. The same should be true for every digital citizenship and SEL effort — students must be included. They will feel respected and included, and the outcomes will be more effective.
Let Kids Be Authentic
After School gives teens the opportunity to anonymously share with their classmates, which leads to them sharing things they otherwise wouldn’t. Having moderation systems in place means that the majority of these posts and comments are positive, which could lead to a boost in confidence, according to chat participants. We also have recently implemented a compliment feature that helps teens give compliments to their peers.
By encouraging children to post honestly and avoid activities like bullying and self-harm, we can help boost their own self-confidence, which will lead to happier and healthier online communities.
Give Them Room to Fail
Telling children what not to do is not an effective strategy. They have to learn from experience. According to host Dana Cox, educators should focus on what to do instead of what not to do when interacting online. Children have to be given room to fail and learn from those failures.
Role Models are Required
Kids look to adults as role models whether they admit it or not. What we do matters. By texting while driving, sending a rude email, or just being on our phones during a family dinner, we show kids that it’s okay to do the same.
We’d like to thank the ISTE for hosting this live Twitter chat and invite you to keep this conversation going. What do you feel is the biggest missing piece of the digital citizenship puzzle? Connect with us on Twitter @SafetyonSocial.