To write a summary for my major project, I started to read through all of my posts. I found it interesting that within the first couple of paragraphs into my first entry, I had stated in my initial proposal, “I could learn more about digital identity and citizenship alongside my girls and come up with some fun ways for them to share their knowledge and creatively teach their own peers. This may also allow us to teach their peers’ parents as well, either directly or indirectly.”
What is interesting about this, you say? I want to point out that I had indicated “fun ways” and “creatively teach” as part of my plan. Well, if you ask my girls, I’m pretty sure they didn’t think it was fun from their point of view. Their interest in completing each questionnaire declined each time. However, I do believe that they learned and are still learning about this aspect of their world.
Prior to knowing this, I polished my proposal to be:
Through the eyes of a child (my daughters), I will use inquiry research to learn about digital citizenship and share this new knowledge with their peers.
I decided to gather my data through Google Forms. There were pros and cons to using a single data gathering tool like this.
- After my first usage, I was familiar with the overall formatting options, options to share questionnaires with participants, as well as read/interpret gathered data (charts and/or excel document).
- Familiar format and expectations with consistent participants.
- Easy to copy and edit kid questionnaire to create a parent version.
- Created and stored within Google Drive, which I navigate weekly for work related tasks.
- Ability to create a variety of types of questions to suit my project purpose.
- Ability to keep participants anonymous.
- Found it hard to be very clear and concise with written directions/explanations so they would be interpreted the same by all participants (kids and parents)
- Unable to explain, elaborate, or reword questions for participants if they were unclear.
- Participants may have become overwhelmed or tired of the same types of questionnaires.
- Not overly fun and engaging for some participants (as was my initial intention) due to such a wide variety of ages involved.
- Participants were not able to see how their answers compared to the rest of the participants unless they followed up with my blog, which is an additional thing to do (time consuming).
However, as I reflect on what I have accomplished with this project, I feel I touched upon a some of the verbs used to describe digital citizenship according to this graphic, such as research, create, limit, engage, respect, use, participate, identify, explore, and most importantly, talk. To keep the bias out of my own kids’ participation in this project, I decided to let my husband be the one to do the questionnaires with our girls as well to participate from the parents’ point of view. Throughout the semester, I have seen him share and highlight several topics brought up through my questionnaires with many of our friends. This was the exact intentions that I was hoping for with regards to what parents get out of this! I consider this a success. Before I reflect more on the overall project, let me debrief you on each step.
My first topic of focus was about understanding kids’ knowledge of internet safety, specifically sharing information (public or private) online. I used the exact questions used on the Be Internet Awesome (by Google) website that was brought up in class. I geared my questionnaire to focus on 7-12 years old and decided to include parents in this as well by having them reflect with their child(ren) to create a dialogue on this topic. At this point, I only sent it to family friends as I felt it better to keep my sample size relatively small and familiar to a certain demographic. It took me some time to draft the survey and I enlisted the help from a friend to look over my email as well as the questionnaire to ensure that it was understandable for both kids and parents.
Before I received data from this survey, I got my husband to do it with my daughters and was disappointed that they were very vague about their take aways and I was not satisfied with this. I had no other option but to intervene and go through it with one of them to dig deeper. However, I learned that sometimes things are better left alone and my bias would impact my results. I wanted them to be raw and untainted, so this was the last time I got personally involved.
The results of this initial survey identified that most kids are aware that they should involve their parents in the information they are sharing online. This was pleasantly surprising and reassuring that kids are more digitally aware than I had given them credit for. Parents were equally as proud and some shared that they discuss these topics at home and some schools have as well.
Based on our class discussion on Mike Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship and my exploration of the Web Tools for Kids book that I had been reading with my kids, next I decided to focus my project on digital etiquette.
To address the concept of digital etiquette, I found a set of questions taken from BrainPop‘s video and quiz on Digital Etiquette, found in their Digital Citizenship video series. Again, I, focused on ages 7-12 to keep things consistent. I then developed a pre-video quiz to assess their prior knowledge of the concept and then a post-video quiz, which was the exact same however the questions were in a different order. Lastly, I sent a parent reflection survey to discuss their kids’ takeaways. Unfortunately, I had a disappointing number of participants and was only able to reflect mainly on my daughters’ responses. Most of this video brought to their attention some terminology that was unfamiliar, such as flamewars, anonymous, and trolls. My husband led this debrief and was able to show a relevant example of a flamewar on Twitter. Again, my intentions for this project was happening within my own household. Winning!
As for my next step, I was influenced by Manoush Zamorodi‘s “How Many People Can’t Walk Without Their Smartphones? video, her Bored and Brilliant Challenge, and once again the Web Tools for Kids book. From these sources, I wanted to explore the purpose of being online. Are you a consumer, participant, or producer? I used the outline of the Ruder Fin Intent Index (2009), which is mostly used to target marketing, to organize my next questionnaire. Due to the lack of participants in my last survey, I decided to open this one up to a larger group of people rather than just kids. Therefore, I shared the link to my questionnaire on my limited social media platforms and the participation was promising.
This was by far my most successful survey due to the number of participants (almost 100). However, the results were not surprising, which I guess is a good thing. The main takeaways were:
- People primarily go online to learn, have fun, socialize, and shop.
- Personal expression, doing business and advocacy are not common reasons for going online.
- Joining a cause was only selected by four out of 95 people surveyed.
- Consumer and participant heavily outweighed producer
In addition to the questionnaire, I had a reflection question which asked participants to identify how they might change their online behaviours going forward based on their results. Surprisingly, most were aware of their behaviours and are therefore not going change anything going forward. For those that were interested in changing, they were going to focus more on being a producer, rather than a consumer or participant.
This led me to ponder several things:
- How much time online is too much time?
- When is it acceptable to be a consumer? a participant? a producer?
- How can advocacy (as a participant or producer) be more of an online purpose?
For my last topic, I went back and forth between having families identify the amount of device time each family member participates in each day and differentiate it from purposeful to non-purposeful or having parents help their kids start to demonstrate appropriate digital citizenship through their social media apps using ideas from the March Media Mentor Month resource or CommonSense.org. I decided to choose the latter as I felt the digital dialogue between parents and their kids and even between families was beneficial and productive as evidence in my own family discussions.
Of course, this is when our current world situation started to impact my project development and it took me a while to gather data on this topic. To collect data, I created two separate surveys, one geared towards kids aged 7 to 18 and another one for adults. Although they were very similar, I added a few questions in both surveys that were relevant to each particular group of participants. Half of the questions were based on the frequency of occurrence and the other half based on yes/no answers. These surveys were influenced primarily by the March Media Mentor Month created by Keri-Lee Beasley
Unfortunately, due to the events out of our control, participation in this survey was once again low, even though I posted to social media. My focus on this survey was not necessarily the individual answers but more so on the reflection from both groups. A brief summary of the kids’ reflection is that they will start to use video conferencing to talk with people instead of texting, continue to be cautious and safe by including parents in online activities, and to try to be on their phone less. As for a summary of parent reflections, they will start/continue to discuss what could happen online and the dangers of online activities, ask permission from their children to post things about them online, will start to do more WITH their children online together, and reflect more often.
SUCCESS OR NOT?
Overall, I am happy with the results of my major project, especially with how it has impacted my family’s frequency of digital dialogue. I did find it difficult to gather information with inconsistent participation and through a qualitative approach, but this was easier for me to prepare on my own time and send out rather than interviewing participants and setting up meetings to do so.
Going back to my initial proposal of “through the eyes of a child (my daughters), I will use inquiry research to learn about digital citizenship and share this new knowledge with their peers“, I feel that I have accomplished several aspects:
- I used inquiry-based research, more so my own than my daughters’, to develop surveys.
- I learned along with my kids and husband about some aspects digital citizenship, including mindful sharing, digital etiquette, online purpose, and most importantly, digital dialogue with family and friends.
- I used topics discussed in class to help guide my project.
- I reflected on my own online behaviours and have realized the importance of positive involvement with my own kids, not through a fear-mongering lens.
Some things that I wish I could have addressed include:
- Making this project with kids and parents more engaging rather than completing surveys.
- Using my daughters’ inquiries guide more of my work rather than my own.
- Use a mixed methods approach to gather data than relying solely on a qualitative approach in order to have participants give me a better look at their online behaviours and understanding.
As a cherry on top of this major project, I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of Nancy Smith‘s book “Social Citizens: A Positive Approach to Social Media & Parenting in a Digital World”. I look forward to reading this as it will give me more ideas and insight as to how I can continue to navigate and support my daughters and their experience with digital citizenship. Wish me luck!