Hilliard City Schools in Columbus, Ohio, recently introduced Digital Wellness Month as a way of promoting healthy use of digital devices and discouraging negative behaviors, District Administration reports. The idea was implemented by district Chief Technology Officer Rich Boettner, who was alarmed by the fact that, while dining out, he noticed that customers were too busy looking at their phones to engage with one with another.
Boettner sought input from technology teachers, coaches and administrators before launching the initiative, which now includes topics on internet safety, etiquette, citizenship and wellness.
During the month, students learn device-related information, such as how to protect their vision through screen color modification and time limits, best-practice social behaviors, and how to reverse screen-time induced posture problems.
As digital natives, it is as important for K-12 students to learn how to be good online citizens as it is to teach kindergartners proper recess etiquette. Like it or not, current students will be using some type of digital devices the rest of their lives. As with any tool, they need to learn how to use them properly.
Many districts are implementing programs to encourage not only good digital citizenship, but also how to protect themselves and the school from ransomware and other cyberattacks that can expose the private data of staff and students. Districts are also educating students about the dangers of online bullying and the fact that everything a student posts will exist online in perpetuity.
Even students’ parents do not always fully understand the implications of social media posts and comments, nor do they understand the long-term dangers of giving their children limitless access to cell phones. Districts often implement evening events aimed at parents to warn them of these risks and to seek their partnership in efforts to improve students’ digital behavior.