Teachers as Models of Internet Use

Teachers as Models of Internet Use

Thanh Trúc T. Nguyễn (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5933-7.ch002
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As the use of computers increases in schools, students' primary role models in computer use and the internet are their teachers. However, teachers themselves are still learning their way through technology in education and how to best use technology to support student learning. This chapter discusses seven issue areas in relation to cyber ethics and decision making online that go beyond the pedagogy of technology in learning contexts. In particular, the chapter is focused on how teachers can model and conduct best practices in digital copyright, student privacy, student access, digital citizenship, digital communication, social media and empathy, and digital literacy.
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The Pew Internet Life study has been tracking internet and broadband usage since the 2000s. In their first survey in 2000, about 52% of Americans were online; the figure in 2016 was 88% (Pew Research Center, 2017) and the age at which people are exposing children to internet-connected devices is getting younger (Hinduja & Patchin, 2015). Societal use of the internet and computers are also shifting, where people watch television programs on computers or mobile devices, bank only online instead of visiting a bank itself, socialize more online than in person, consume news from social media feeds instead of from newspapers or news programs, and conduct all their holiday shopping online instead of in stores.

Where adults are generally able to self-monitor the time spent on devices and how they make decisions online, children are less able to self-moderate their own behavior (Chein, Albert, O’Brien, Uckert, & Steinberg, 2011). Their decision-making skills are not fully developed because of both brain development and the lack of life experience. Their sense of ethics, or what is right and wrong, is still strongly influenced by adults--namely what mom, dad, and teacher tell them is right and wrong. Yet, children are given internet-enabled devices as early as the age of two, and sometimes earlier, and many are able to search for cartoons that amuse them or even place an actual call to grandma by mimicking their parents. Adolescents, however, are more influenced by their peers and less so by adults. There is a strong risk-taking culture in the adolescent years (Chein et al., 2011). A study with grade 6 students by Lim, Tan, Nizam, Zhou, and Tan (2016) demonstrated that students given devices with no teacher instruction or modeling led to cheating in games, cyberbullying, and visiting inappropriate websites. Research has shown that seeing a positive role model demonstrating positive behaviors is critical in the adolescent years (Lumpkin, 2008). Where parents and guardians should occupy that important space as primary role models and rule setters, teachers can also serve as models in their use of the computers and the internet.

Because schools are providing more access to computers, teachers are in a prime position to model and encourage positive behaviors on computers. School leaders see digital devices like computers, tablet devices, and smartphones as important to equalize access to and opportunities for learning. This belief has led to an increase in personal ownership and presence of Internet-enabled devices in schools. Some schools provide Internet-enabled devices to their students while others are establishing “bring your own device” policies so to not only maximize budgets, but to minimize a student’s learning curve on the technical features of a new device.

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