Interesting Read – “Fostering Cross-Generational Dialogues about the Ethics of Online Life”

This is a post from my other blog: Citizens for a Digital World – my TLLP project blog.  I thought that I would post it here also!

In preparation for my research proposal for a Masters’ thesis and my TLLP project this year, I have been reading a great deal about Digital Citizenship and social skills over the last few months.


I stumbled across this article by Katie Davis, Shira Lee Katz, Rafi Santo and Carrie James.   (the wordle above is taken from the text of the article.)  I was immediately interested by the idea of a cross-generational dialogue that was present in the online conversations about digital citizenship.  It reminded my of a conference put on by WRDSB  a couple of years ago around this topic in which educators, community members and students were present.  It changed the dynamic of the discussions.


The online groups in this study focussed on five categories of ethical issues salient in online environments:identity, privacy, ownership and authorship, credibility, and participation.  In addition, the authors wanted to see the level of moral development and thinking that the participants had.  The three ways of thinking they identified as consequence thinking, moral thinking, and ethical thinking. The authors outlined how students move through each complex level of thinking “during the course of childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood.”   I found these categories and levels of thinking extremely easy to understand and a good way to break down social skill/digital citizenship instruction.


The study findings were not surprising yet still relevant.  The study found that adults “drew on moral and ethical ways of thinking to a greater degree than teen participants as they responded to various ethical issues concerning online life.”  In addition, teens exhibited ”a higher degree of consequence thinking”, the lowest level of thinking which focusses on “a concern for their own well being rather than the well being of others or the broader community.”


More important to me in my studies is that the study found “that the two groups [adults and students] were able to engage in genuine dialogue and find common ground.”  This suggests that teachers are able to engage students in discussion around digital citizenship and social skills.  In addition, the study suggested that the dialogues “provided opportunities for genuine, reciprocal exchanges between adults and teens” – something that is extremely important in digital citizenship instruction.


Check out the article – it’s a quick read with some good findings.





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