EGUSD Digital Citizenship

Resources for 21st Century Teaching and Learning

EGUSD Digital Citizenship

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Digital Citizenship During Summer Break

As the school year comes to a close, we have the opportunity to reflect on all that has happened in the past 10 months. During this school year, we faced unprecedented challenges. We were also granted many opportunities, including the opportunity for students to practice digital citizenship skills in meaningful and impactful ways each and every day. From day one, students were tasked with using digital tools for all aspects of their academic experience. In addition, they depended more heavily on technology to stay connected to friends and family they could no longer see in person. These opportunities allowed students to become more skilled in evaluating news and media, navigating social interactions online, and being mindful of what information they shared in their online communities. They received guidance from their teachers, including instruction on how to be productive, safe, and respectful digital citizens.

DigCit in the summer

As we transition into summer, many students will still find themselves immersed in digital worlds. However, many will not have the monitoring and guidance they received during the school year.  Here are a few reminders for students and parents as they begin to enjoy the freedom that summer vacation offers:  

  • Be mindful of what you share and with whom you share it- Whether it be posting on Instagram, Tik Tok, or any new social media platform that pops up, it is essential that students think before they share. They should never share personally identifiable information and should be mindful of how their words and messages will affect the people viewing them. 
  • Be kind and respectful to others online- Words matter. Be kind. 
  • Avoid digital drama- Due to the 24/7 nature of digital communication, many students find that the end of the school year does not mean an end to the digital drama that unfolded during the year. Students should be mindful about engaging in digital drama and involve adults, when necessary, to help them resolve issues before they escalate. Parents should help their children set boundaries around their use of devices and how they engage with others online.  
  • Think critically about what you see and read- During the school year, teachers are constantly helping students develop the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate information and online sources. The need for these critical thinking skills does not end with the onset of summer break. Students should continue to view information online through a critical lens and not believe everything they see and hear.

For additional information about how to help your children navigate the digital world, please explore the following resources:

Social Media, Cyberbullying and the Role of the Bystander – Change Is Coming

Throughout history, the role of the bystander has been attributed to inciting countless bad things. Today, bystanders are involved in most cyberbullying incidents – with no consequences for their actions or lack of action. Change is coming. We recently attended a Parent Night presentation at Joseph Kerr Middle School (JKMS) from the Organization for Social Media Safety (SMS). We were happy to meet some of the parents, PTA members, JKMS staff and leadership students in attendance.

Joseph Kerr Middle School Social Media Safety Parent Night

Ed Peisner, a father, who founded SMS in 2017, opened his presentation with a short video to explain the organization’s mission.

In response to the 2017 vicious, debilitating attack on his son Jordan, which was filmed by the attacker’s friend and then uploaded to social media (Snapchat), Ed took action. In addition to forming the SMS, he dedicated himself to working with public policy. Within the year, and in collaboration with California Assemblymember Matt Dababneh, Ed spearheaded the passing of AB 1542, AKA Jordan’s Law. The law makes it a criminal offense to deliberately record an attack for the purpose of posting it on social media, and, in some cases, the person filming and posting the video (bystanders) could also be charged.

Ed Peisner from The Organization for Social Media Safety

Peisner views AB 1542 as a step forward for change. But he’s not stopping there. He is currently working on “groundbreaking social media safety legislation at the state level and with local school boards on enhancing social media safety policies.”

In Jordan’s case, only the perpetrator, who did not even know Jordan, was charged with a crime.  The bystanders, including the young woman partnering with the perpetrator to film the attack, were not charged. Typically the perpetrators commit the act of bullying/cyberbullying and recording/posting to social media for the purpose of gaining “likes”, more important to them than the consequences of their actions.  Without the bystanders, the attack on Jordan would likely not have happened. It is because of bystanders that history all too often repeats itself.

We recommend visiting the SMS website and signing up for their newsletter. We’re also following the organization on Facebook and Twitter to help keep on top of the ever-changing social media issues that impact the lives and safety of our students and their families.

We look forward to next year’s student rally at JKMS with Ed Peisner and enthusiastically support the work and goals of SMS:

SMS is the nation’s first non-profit that serves as a consumer protection organization focused solely on social media safety. SMS protects families from all social media-related dangers including cyberbullying, violence, hate speech, human trafficking, and propaganda through innovative educational programming, legislative and regulatory advocacy, and technology development.” 

Cyberbullying Prevention – 5 Things Parents Can Do
  • Help your child be an upstander — not a bystander. Children are hesitant to get involved, in case the bully turns their sights on them. But there are ways to allow your child to work behind the scenes to reach out to the victim, get an adult involved, and prevent more cruel behavior.
  • Teach your child empathy. Nothing drives home a point faster than walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. If children truly understand what someone else is going through, they’re less likely to bully someone — or passively witness others being bullied.
  • Help children understand the line between funny and cruel. Children’s online communication is often purposely ambiguous or accidentally cruel — both of which can lead to misunderstandings. If drama starts brewing, ask your child to call or speak face to face with his/her friend to clear it up.
  • Make sure they talk to someone (even if it’s not you). As children enter the middle school years, their circle of friends and trusted adults widens. Children need a responsible adult to confide in — their school counselor, their music teacher, even the parent of a friend. Talk to your children about who they can go to if trouble is brewing.
  • Show your child how to stop cyberbullying. Tell children not to respond or retaliate. Not feeding the bully can stop the cycle. And — if anything does happen — save the evidence.

Source: Common Sense

Top Social Media Safety Tips
  • Keep your social media pages on private. Double check they are on private.
  • Turn off geo-tagging on your social media posts.
  • Do not let your teen “friend” people they do not directly know. Teens should NEVER make plans to meet someone they met on social media.
  • Report inappropriate content (bullying, hate speech, obscenity) to the social media platform AND block the poster, while still saving the evidence.

Source: Organization for Social Media Safety (SMS)

For more cyberbullying and social media information and resources, please visit the cyberbullying  and social media 101 pages of our website.

Facebook’s new Messenger Kids app – for children under the age of 13

Facebook recently released a spin-off version of their Messenger app, designed specifically for children under the age of 13. Until now, Facebook has required users to be 13+ to create an account. Although Messenger Kids allows tweens into the world of Facebook Messenger, the program comes with built-in parental controls. Parents create the account and add new contacts for their children. After parents create their child’s account, Messenger Kids will instruct them to hand the device to their child so he/she can complete the setup. The child will be asked to select an app color and take a profile pic. Children are identified by first name only and they can’t delete any messages – only parents have that ability. This feature gives parents a window into any potential cyberbullying issue or other troubling concern, such as protecting personal information or preventing the spread of inappropriate content.  Parents will need to look at the child’s device in order to see messages; they won’t automatically receive copies or have access within their own accounts. If a child wants to chat with a friend from school, his/her parent would need to be Facebook friends with the parent of the other child. Both parents would then need to agree to the connection request. Parents won’t need to download a separate app, they can communicate with Messenger Kids users through their existing FB Messenger accounts.

Within a message, children can send “kid-appropriate” gifs, stickers, emojis and live filters. They can also access all photos and videos on the device they are using. Live video chats with approved contacts are also an option.

There seems to be some mixed messaging about whether or not Facebook is collecting data and what it will be used for – Common Sense Media cautions about Messenger Kids privacy policy. As always – we suggest reading any app’s privacy policy before downloading.

Link to Facebook Messenger Kids privacy policy

The release of the new Messenger Kids app has sparked many conversations about the age appropriateness of young children using mobile phones and social media. We always value app reviews and safety tips by Thomas Dodson of Above the Fray. Thomas and his team have presented their message during parent nights at several of our EGUSD high schools.

The topic of age appropriateness would make for a great debate and/or essay assignment. We would love to showcase your students thoughts and actions on this topic by featuring them as a guest blogger.

Below are a few articles – pros and cons –  to start classroom conversations:

New Facebook App for Children Ignites Debate Among Families – The New York Times

Facebook launches Messenger Kids app – but parents vet chat contacts – The Guardian

Facebook’s New Messenger App For Kids Is Here… Are You Ready? – Thomas Dodson, Above the Fray


Yik Yak – No Profiles, No Passwords, It’s “Annonymous”

It’s very important to stay on top of social media trends, especially when children are using these sites or apps to harass and bully each other. Tracking new/popular apps where teens have ramped up usage to hurl insults at one another is part of the process of educating yourself as to the positive and negative capabilities of the apps.

yikyak app icon

The Yik Yak app started on the campus of Furman University in South Carolina last fall, but its popularity has been spreading very quickly. While the founders (Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll) insist that it’s intended for college students and that anonymity means “the only thing you are judged on is the content that you have created,” Yik Yak has already caused some trouble on elementary, middle and high school campuses across the nation.

Yik Yak is an anonymous social chatting app that is location-based. The free app allows users to post anonymous comments that can be viewed by anyone who is within 5 miles of the person who posted it. Users can post nameless comments that others in their immediate vicinity can see. Often the comments are mundane observations about what is going on around users, but they could include harassing messages, answers to tests, threats, sexually explicit comments, hate speech, etc. When using Yik Yak, you can interact with others around you by posting Yaks, short snippets talking about absolutely anything, and see a live feed of Yaks from others in your local area. Yaks are limited to 200 characters, and you can’t post pictures. You can search for All-Time Greatest Yaks, Top Yaks in My Area, My Top Yaks, and Other Top Yaks. With Yik Yak, you can talk about anything and get “upvotes” if people like what you have to say or “downvotes” if they don’t. For a $0.99-$4.99 app upgrade, you can broaden your audience by gaining the ability to send Yaks to 1,000-10,000 recipients.

Like Snapchat, KIK and, which have received negative press over the past year regarding bullying problems, Yik Yak’s instant popularity stems from teens looking for ways to communicate away from the eyes of adults, who tend to gravitate toward Facebook and Twitter. Teens are always searching for the next best thing.

According to Yik Yak’s community use guidelines, the app shouldn’t be used for bullying or targeting of “other yakkers.” Users are advised to refrain from using people’s personal information (full names and phone numbers) and to “downvote” or report “useless or offensive Yaks.” Yik Yak’s terms of service state that users must be 17 years old to download the app.

“We rely on our communities to do the right thing,” the guidelines read. “You have the power.” Users who are continually reported will be warned, then suspended, according to the guidelines, which end with, “Spread the word to grow the herd. Ride the Yak.”

To report a cruel or offensive comment, the recipient may select the comment and click the “report inappropriate” button. A recipient may also take a screen shot of the comment and email it to

New apps are always going to be popping up. Just as users lose interest in one, developers come up with others to entice a new audience. The one thing we have the power to do as a community is to continue to be diligent about reinforcing the safe, effective and ethical use of social media apps and the Internet.

Tips for Keeping Children Safe on New Devices

Photo of teens on laptop

With the holiday season approaching, parents may be interested in checking out a few tips for keeping kids safe on new devices, such as the latest smart phones, game systems and tablets. Below are a few suggestions:

  • establish ground rules for phone, online game access and use
  • make sure your children have privacy settings enabled on all of their devices for gaming or social media sites/apps they use
  • turn off location services on smart phones so chidren can’t “check-in” or display their location in photos or on social media websites
  • educate yourself on the latest and greatest games and apps and discuss with your children which ones are appropriate*
  • if you feel monitoring your children’s actions through parental controls is necessary, a good place to start is with your cell phone and/or Internet service provider*

* To learn more about apps children are using, visit Social Media 101 under the Parent Resource section of EGUSD’s Digital Citizenship website. You will also find helpful information links and resources on the Parental Controls page.

Facebook now allows teens to go “public” with content

Teen Facebook users ages 13-17 now have the option to share photos, updates and comments with the general public on Facebook.

According to Facebook’s latest news update, teens are among the most active users of social media, ranging from civic engagement topics to their thoughts on a new movie. They want to be heard. In an attempt to appeal to the declining number of teens using Facebook, they’ve changed their privacy policy.  As of October 16, 2013, teens ages 13 through 17 now have the choice to post publicly on Facebook. All though the default when setting up a new account will now be “Friends only, ” teens now have the option to change that to “Public” under the new privacy settings.

When teens choose “Public” in the audience selector, they’ll see a reminder that the post can be seen by anyone, not just people they know, with an option to change the post’s privacy setting.

Facebook Privacy Screenshot
Source: Facebook

And if teens choose to continue posting publicly, they will get an additional reminder.

Facebook Privacy Screenshot
Source: Facebook

What this means for parents:

  • Strangers and companies collecting data for advertisers and marketing companies will be able to see select posts.
  • Strangers will also be able to “follow” teens they don’t know and see their public posts in the main news feed.
  • If teens change the audience of a post to share an update publicly, unless they use the audience selector to change their privacy setting back to “Friends,” all future posts will be public.
  • Facebook’s “Follow” feature now lets teens share posts, pictures and links with people they’re not friends with. Previously, minors were not able to turn on the “Follow” feature.

While minors can now opt to post updates, links and photos publicly — Facebook continues to protect some searchable information about minors, including their contact information, school and birthday.

Facebook is simply using the same privacy model that other competing social media sites (such as Twitter) already have in use. It’s important to continue to be vigilant when it comes to understanding the implications of privacy policy changes to any social media site.

Facebook – Shared Photo Albums

Facebook recently created a shared photo album feature to make it easier for users to share photos with others. Facebook began rolling out shared photo albums to a small group on Monday, August 26, and will expand to all English-speaking Facebook users before opening the feature to international users.

Photo of girl taking photo with her smartphone

When you create a new photo album in Facebook, you will now have the option to check a new “Make Shared Album” box. You can add up to 50 people to the album and each person can upload up to 200 photos. Every contributor can tag, edit and give captions to the photos they add.

Something to think about…

Something to think about when uploading photos to a shared album or social media sites in general – some people may not want their images or the images of their children shared with the world. Nowadays, when people take photos at parties and events, it’s pretty normal to hear the phrase “Please don’t put those on Facebook.” Unless people specifically tell you it’s O.K. to post their photos on Facebook when asked, your safest assumption would be that it is not O.K., especially when dealing with posting photos of  young children. If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of people posting photos of you or your children on Facebook, make sure you let family and friends know this. Everyone has a different opinion regarding privacy, so it’s possible other family and friends may not even realize you wouldn’t want your children’s photos to be shared on Facebook or other social media websites.

Shared Photo Album Privacy Settings

The Facebook shared album’s creator has the ability to decide who sees the photos by setting the privacy settings to just contributors, friends of contributors or public. If you’re a contributor, you can add photos but you won’t be able to adjust the privacy of the album. When you add contributors to an album, the album may be visible on their timelines. Keep in mind that anyone tagged in the photos and their friends may be able to view the album as well. When you tag someone, that photo will be shared with the person tagged and their friends.

What is tagging and how does it work?

A tag is a special kind of link. When you tag someone in Facebook, you create a link to their timeline. The post or photo you tag the person in may also be added to that person’s timeline. For example, you can tag a photo to show who’s in the photo or post a status update and say who you’re with. If you tag a friend in your status update, anyone who sees that update can click on your friend’s name and go to their timeline. Your status update may also show up on that friend’s timeline.

When you tag someone, they’ll be notified. Also, if you or a friend tags someone in your post and the post is set to “friends or more,” the post could be visible to the audience you selected, plus friends of the tagged person.

What is Facebook timeline review? How do you turn timeline review on?

Posts you’re tagged in can appear in your news feed, search and other places on Facebook. Timeline review is part of your activity log and lets you choose whether these photos or posts also appear on your timeline. When people you’re not friends with tag you in a post, they automatically go to timeline review. If you would also like to review tags by friends, you can turn on timeline review for tags from anyone:

  1. Click at the top right of any Facebook page and select Account Settings
  2. In the left column, click Timeline and Tagging
  3. Look for the setting “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline?” and click Edit to the far right
  4. Select Enabled from the dropdown menu

Reporting Photos & Videos That Violate Your Privacy Rights

Facebook provides people with ways to report photos and videos that they believe to be in violation of their privacy rights. Facebook states “We will remove photos and videos that you report as unauthorized if this is required by relevant privacy laws in your country, as long as the reported content involves you, your child (under 13) or another person for whom you are the legal representative or guardian.” Photos or videos involving anyone else will need to be reported by the individuals themselves.


Link to Facebook’s shared photo album FAQ’s

Link to Facebook’s image privacy rights information and reporting forms

Link to Facebook’s Family Safety Center


Snapchat 101

You would think that an app with a cute looking ghost for its logo would be pretty harmless, no? That’s not necessarily the case with Snapchat, a free mobile app that allows users to share images or videos that disappear (supposedly) after a few seconds.

Snapchat was created in 2011 by a couple of entrepreneurial Stanford students for the purpose of making it safe to send silly photos to others without the long term consequences.  Considering the fact that anything you say online can follow you forever – the #1 lesson we should be teaching students about digital footprints and social media – it’s questionable that Snapchat content 100% “disappears.”

Once you load the Snapchat app and login, you can take a photo, edit it, add a caption or other “doodles.” Then you select the friends to send the photo to and set a timer from 1 to 10 seconds. Once the photo message is sent, the receiver has the time set by the timer to look at the photo before the message “self-destructs.”

While the photo message disappears from the phone after a few seconds, it does not prevent the receiver from snapping a screenshot of the photo while it is live. If a receiver takes a screenshot of the photo in Snapchat, the sender is notified, but that may not be enough to prevent the photo from being shared later with others.

In addition, if a receiver knows that a message is coming, he or she could take a photo of the screen with another phone or digital camera and the sender would never know that their supposedly “evaporating” photo would be alive and well on another device.

Snapchat’s privacy policy explicitly states that there’s no guarantee your data will always be deleted. “Messages, therefore, are sent at the risk of the user.”

Users can receive images in Snapchat from anyone who knows their usernames, so teens using Snapchat will need to be careful not to share their usernames in public forums.

As always, regardless of the program or app, the best advice to all children is to “think before clicking submit.”

Age Requirements: Snapchat is not intended for children under the age of 13. Minors ages 13-17 should have permission from a parent or legal guardian before using Snapchat. Children under the age of 13 are only permitted to access a special version of Snapchat, called “Snapkidz,” which they are automatically directed to upon sign up. Snapkidz allows children to take snaps and draw on them, but not send them to other users. Snaps taken with Snapkidz can be saved locally on the device.

Below are links to resources for parents. A user-guide provided by Snapchat and a guide to Snapchat created by Connect Safely, a website with social-media and mobile safety tips for teens and parents.

Snapchat  – Learning the Basics (Source: Snapchat)
Parent’s Guide to Snapchat (Source: Connect Safely)
How to Report Abuse on Snapchat – Note: You must have a Snapchat account  (Source: Snapchat)
What is Snapchat? (Common Sense Media)
Snapchat Infographic (Source:
Please visit the parent section’s social media 101 page of the EGUSD Digital Citizenship website to learn more about other popular apps teens are using.

Instagram 101

According to the Pew Research Center, as of May 2013, 91% of American adults have a cell phone, and 34% of American adults own a tablet computer. And now, for the first time, more than half (56%) of the American population owns a smartphone. This change has been directly tied to the evolution of pictorial side of social media because smartphones come with cameras and enable easy sharing of pictures and video.

Instagram (now owned by Facebook) is a free photo sharing app that allows users (age 13 and above) to take photos and 15-second videos with their mobile phones, apply an optional “filter” to the image and quickly share them with friends.

Fact: Instagram users upload on average 40 million photos to the site each day – from Nielsen Published: 06/04/2013

Facebook and Instagram are Different

Although Instagram is owned by Facebook, the services have different policies and different terms of service. For example, while both Facebook and Instagram require users to be 13 years of age or older, Instagram doesn’t ask for a user’s date of birth on signup, though anyone reported and found to be under 13 can have their account deleted.

With Facebook, you can tag anyone and you are notified when you’re tagged even if the person tagging isn’t your friend, Instagram has a different policy in that it only notifies you if the person is posting publicly or if you are following them.  Here is Instagram’s privacy policy and here’s Facebook’s Data Use Policy.

Parent Tips:

  • Make sure that your teen’s profile and photos aren’t out there for everyone to see. If their Instagram profile isn’t set to “private,” it should be. This will ensure that only approved friends will see their photos. Learn more about Instagram safety and security through their help center.
  • Make sure your teen is using the option of turning off location so that people don’t know where they were when their photos were taken.
  • Turn off “Auto Add” so that you get to approve who adds or tags you in photos.
  • Report or flag any photo or comment that you consider to be inappropriate for review by Instagram staff
  • Talk to your kids about what is and isn’t appropriate to photograph, share and pass around to others on any social networking website.

Instagram Tips for Parents (Source: Instagram)
What Should Parents Know About Instagram? (Common Sense Media)
A Parent’s Guide to Instagram (Source: Connect Safely)
Instagram Adds “Photos of You” Tagging Feature: How To Plus Privacy Tips (Source: Larry Magdid)
Report Something (Source: Instagram)

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