Digital Citzenship CAN and SHOULD be taught to young kids

My son is going to be in third grade this fall and he has more online awareness than I had at any time in my life growing up as a kid and teenager.

Like many other kids, he is addicted and loves Minecraft. He does things so quickly and rapidly that blow me away and most times do not make sense to my eyes.

One thing we have done as parents is instill a sense of trust with him. We have laid out guidelines and have open communications about what is acceptable and not acceptable. We then cross our fingers that he listens.

He is a typical boy. He pouts. He does not like chores. He loves outdoors. Etc. He is just your regular run of the mill boy.

And he gets the gold star in digital citizenship.

He plays on the JoKaydia server which is ran by an amazing educator and person who I have so much respect for. We don’t peer over his shoulder, but ask that he remains open and honest. He has done wonderfully talking about issues. It leads to some great conversations not only about digital citizenship, but making proper decisions in life and treatment of others.

The other week I was out of town and I had to discuss with him over the phone about why he cannot play Halo or Modern Warfare while his other friends get to play. This is tough and puts him in a tough situation as he cannot play with his friends when they play these games. I often wonder if we are losing him to the peer pressure and possibly open communication.

Then I was reminded that he is a rock star. We received an email about him dealing with a situation on the Minecraft server.

HI ********,

I read the server logs of the incident you had with ******** in the mines today and I wanted to let you know that he has been banned for using swear words (cussing) and being rude to you. I’m sorry you had to experience that situation and I wanted to let you know that I’m very proud of you for handling it so well. You clearly reminded him to follow the rules and not use bad words, and you logged out when he wouldn’t stop – which was exactly the right way to handle things.

We take bad behavior including rudeness like that very seriously, and ******* account will stay banned for at least 2 weeks and we will discuss the problem with him and his parents before he is allowed to come back.

I was very proud as a parent. My 8 year old son handled a situation completely on his own and handled it perfectly without any guidance from us as parents. This also showcases how amazing some people are like Jo Kaydia who help make learning possible in safe environments. Additionally, this shows how fluent kids are today with the internet and the digital landscape.

On a higher level this goes back to an idea I shared months ago. Digital citizenship needs to be taught starting in kindergarten. Kids are networking online younger and younger and need to learn how to deal with issues. They need to be taught how to behave and what to do when others choose not to behave properly. They can handle it. The earlier they hear the message and more frequent they hear the message, the more positive their digital footprint will develop. They live in a day and age where they can no longer erase their actions. All they do is recorded. We must provide the kids with the tools and mindset to handle these powerful tools and games in the correct manner.

Part of our jobs in schools is to help develop these discussions and awareness. Yes, parents play a pivotal role as well, but not all parents are aware of these issues and don’t know how to go about it. This incident is another reminder of the obligations we have to our youth.

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In the chair of a student: Minecraft learning reverses my teacher role!

Learning how to play Minecraft with the teachings of my 8 year old son has brought me back to my school days. I felt stressed and not sure about myself.

Minecraft CastleAs Aiden rattled off all these keyboard shortcuts, new lingo, how to do this and that all at a blazing speed of an 8 year old excited to show his dad the world he loves, I was out of my element.

Now, I am a nerd. I love computers and games and anything involving technology so it is not like I don’t understand basic game mechanics. However, I needed him to slow down. I realized that his excitement was over the top. I loved it! He was so passionate about what he could create and do.

What I finally had to do was tell him to move on and just let me explore. I had another kid on the server help me at a much slower pace. I felt much better getting instructions from someone else. I felt bad about this, but this is when the light bulb clicked.

As parents, how many times has our children not listened to us, but hear the same message from someone else and it completely sinks in?

As teachers, how many times have we grown frustrated that a child cannot do this or that, but never give much thought to the fact that this may be their first time ever doing the task while we have done it for years?

Sitting in my computer chair I was reminded that I too, need to slow down. I must remember that not everyone operates the same way that I do. I was reminded that as teachers we can be the ones to deliver the same message that they are not hearing at home despite the family preaching it a million times or not at all.

I was also reminded that my brain operates much different. He lives by self teaching through YouTube. I had to download some books as I like to read, take notes, and then apply. Our brains and lifestyles have changed as technology has provided new ways of learning. I hate to say it, but I learn the old school way and he is part of the new school generation.

Despite feeling stressed about learning so much so fast in Minecraft by my son, I loved the experience. It reminded of what he goes through everyday. It reminded that I have so much to learn as there is so much I don’t know. It reminded me to stay involved with the passions of my son and to be sure to share my own passions. All it takes is 5 minutes to listen, even if it stresses us out! It shows we care. And even more importantly he is excited about it.

Instead of harping on him all the time about playing too much perhaps I should embrace that he wants to share his passions with me. If all I do is harp at what point does he no longer share his passions with me anymore?

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Minecraft present to their mom

My kids Aiden and Addy worked hard to build a little birthday present for their mom for her birthday. Pretty impressive considering how quickly they built it and completely on their own. Many little personal touches that I was quite surprised they put in on their own.

Once again Minecraft has been an outlet for my kids to showcase their personalities and thinking. By taking a new world and working together they built a perfect present for their mother. This is much better than anything you buy with money because this shows their appreciation for their mom.

I never expected them to share what they did. So proud of Aiden and Addy.

I only show this as an example that people can trash video games and electronics, but I am believer that there is a word of positive in these tools and games.

Here is the link for the video

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8 year old Aiden Minecraft Video #2: Pez Dispenser Challenge and Help Requests

On April 2nd my 8 year old son posted a video to Youtube to showcase a rollercoaster he built. We shared it on this blog as a blog post. I was not sure what to expect and just wanted him to have the chance to do something that interested him. My only rule was that he speak and explain his thoughts(the teacher in me).

About a week later he has over 50 views. I know that is not a lot in the YouTube sense, but it is a lot for an 8 year old testing out the waters of social media. I showed him how to look at the views and to check for comments. He was so happy to see that people actually watched his video. It was like he was testing out the waters himself to see if it was worthwhile.

A few days after posting he had a comment left on the YouTube site by the infamous Jo Kay who is a staple in the Minecraft world. Jo had challenged Aiden to build a better rollercoaster and gave him a place to start with learning and viewing. This was all that was needed for him to continue his self learning. Over the last few days he had been working hard to meet that challenge for Jo.

Here is what is cool about this whole process. He wanted to record again, but this time it was different. He is stuck. He has watched I don’t know how many videos, but he just cannot grasp what he wants to do. This time around he asked me to leave the room so he could record by himself. I let him do that, but I did edit the video because there were some long pauses of nothing going on. As I condensed the video I realized I have another chance to teach him about presentation skills, tips, and ideas.

To make things even cooler he had a comment left for him on the blog by another 8 year old who lives in China and likes his rollercoaster. I have never seen a smile so big when he found out another kid his age left a comment. He feels so special to have these two comments. Now he is working on connecting to these people online to learn and to teach others. It is a rather remarkable journey that we are embarking on together.

So, here is a link to this latest video where you can see his two attempts at making a Pez Dispenser rollercoaster from the challenge and some other ideas he has.

 http://youtu.be/LjPLwUV4-Nw

Like a typical 8 year old who is excited and working through the process he skips around so bare with him. He laid out his plans for his Minecraft video series last night so they will only get better and I think he has plans to show the Ender dragon and all that jazz.

Let the journey continue………

And if you have any suggestions or ideas for him leave a comment here or on YouTube.

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Some Quality Answers From Aiden’s Work At School

You  have to love the honesty and straight to the point thoughts of a 2nd grade boy.

We never know what will happen next with our kids. The downside of being the offspring of Amanda and I.

I bet any shoe would not argue with these statements.

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