Person standing on asphalt road near arrows pointing in different directions, top view.

Life is full of tricky situations and, for our children who spend so much time in the online world, digital dilemmas are part of their daily lives. Whether they are trying to decide if they should post a photo, accept a friend request, or involve themselves in digital drama, they constantly face situations that lack a clear cut right or wrong answer. Teachers and families can help children navigate these digital dilemmas by providing them with skills, strategies, and thinking routines that provide them opportunities to reflect on why each situation is a dilemma and how they might deal with it. 

What types of digital dilemmas might children face?

  • Posting photos of themselves online
  • Setting boundaries with friends who want to constantly interact online
  • Interacting within a group chat where their friends have added people they don’t know
  • Joining in when friends are making inappropriate jokes when gaming together
  • Filming a fight that happens during lunch
  • Confronting friends who posted photos of them without their permission

What skills and thinking routines help students navigate digital dilemmas?
Common Sense Education provides teachers, families, and children some guidance on how thinking routines can help children deal with these dilemmas.

  • Digital habits check-up
    • Check- What are your current digital habits?
    • Choose- Which habit would you like to change? 
    • Challenge- What is your plan for changing that habit?
    • Boost- How can you make it easier to do your new habit?
    • Track- How can you keep track of your progress towards developing your new habit? 
  • Feelings & options
    • Identify- Who is involved? What is the dilemma or challenge?
    • Feel- What are the people feeling? Why might it be challenging for each of them? 
    • Imagine- What could they do to deal with the situation?
    • Say- What could the people involved say? To whom would they say it? How would they say it?
  • Take a stand
      • Take a stand- How do you feel about the situation? 
      • Stand back- How do other people feel about the situation? 
      • Look again- How do you feel about the situation now that you have heard what other people have said? 
      • Look beyond- How is this dilemma related to other dilemmas you have faced? 

How can we help children practice these thinking routines?
Families and educators can use guides and examples found on the Common Sense Education Teach Digital Citizenship with Dilemmas and Thinking Routines page.

While digital dilemmas can seem overwhelming for children, these thinking routines and guided practice can help them navigate many of the challenges they will face online.