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Sharing is a moral imperative.

This week we debated the necessity or disservice of sharing and openness in schools in the context of social media and education technology. And, much like many of our discussions, it involves statements or hesitations from some that we could apply to other arguments about childhood and life. Observing my opening sentence, read the italicized and consider if that phrase, not in the context of social media, but rather of students of the past. Is or was sharing and openness not encouraged, with emphasis on competition instead? Perhaps not in schools, but at home?  Once upon a time, ‘openness’ and sharing emotions was discouraged as part of social pressures on males (The Mask You Live In). But in today’s world, openness and sharing is a given, a moral imperative. And sharing and openness in social media is no exception to this fundamental moral imperative. But sharing is a learning process, parents and educators need to learn themselves and guide students through the process of now understanding sharing not just in the historic sense of “Billy, let Tim play with your toys too”,

it’s become “Billy, don’t feel like you need to let Tim know about every single thing you’re doing today on Instagram”. We can share learning, or perhaps important life events, but where is the line in what we should share? Juan Enriquez presents the idea that everything we share leaves that digital tattoo. So, while I would argue we need to share, we need to be aware of the implications of what we share about ourselves and others. Much like presenting ourselves professionally in public, like at a social gathering, today social media is where humans gather and “humans are wired to share”. Rachel Botsman, makes this argument in her case for collaborative consumption.


Learning about sharing. How do we share better?

There are a lot of reminders out there about why we need to be aware of our digital footprint. Sometimes there is that fear about what we put into the big scary internet, but we (teachers and students) can use it to our advantage. This requires some learning to take place. In discussion with my grade nines, we stumbled onto an apparent digital citizenship learning curve. In many ways, as student’s raised in the social media age, they hit certain milestones or realizations about what is “okay” online far sooner than I ever did. Like any bit of learning, however, there are gaps. Some learn to avoid “oversharing” younger, yet fail to understand the idea of creating a positive digital footprint and post profanity or inappropriate content. As a young educator, I am fortunate to have been raised in the beginning of the social media age, but learned through mistakes and failure; different generations have different exposure and opportunity. So, rather than a trial by fire, or through personal experience depending on the generation of teachers, educators need a guideline for teaching digital citizenship in our school, thanks Alec and Katia. Find your line and use the resources to teach about openness and sharing through social media responsibly.

Where is the ideal line between sharing too much and not enough though? We can be aware of our digital footprints, but one person’s definition of a good digital footprint may be slightly different than another, much like one individual’s thoughts on sharing may be different than another. Where is your line?

Logan Petlak