In a world where emails, texts and social media are abundant, our next badge, entitled Netiquette, provides appropriate and fun lessons for our Cadettes. Their first meeting began their work on knowing how to make and keep our online world a positive place. This was another one of our girl-led badges where AY, KM and ML took charge in teaching their fellow Cadettes how to make positive choices in the online world and the importance of strong online etiquette.
The meeting began with each girl taking a pre-quiz to determine their understanding of Netiquette before delving into the topic further. )While they were taking the quiz Coach C came into the room and we quizzed him too…he passed with flying colors! Way to go Coach!! )
To demonstrate common mistakes with texts and emails, the girl leaders read some funny texts that were accidental or misconstrued because of auto-correct or not paying attention to who the message was being sent to. They realized how some of these communications can cause anger, hurt or embarrassment for themselves or to others. The girls then had a chance to share some “oops” moments of their own.
The girls also explored how positive “wow” moments can be used in online communications. In fact, for homework, each girl started an online kindness campaign by sending 14 nice emails, texts or posts (with the supervision of their parents) and complete a log with the date and to whom the message was sent. They had a month to complete the assignment.
The majority of the meeting was spent completing a pretend Facebook profile. After each girl completed their profile the group shared them and discussed the good and not-so-good details that were “posted” in this online medium. They were introduced to the fact that there are privacy filters that can be applied to such pages. Some of the girls took the profile activity seriously and gave good examples of appropriate details to share. A few of the girls were more “creative” in their answers and we were able to use their responses to discuss why things were not appropriate to share and the significant ramifications of sharing inappropriate information online. This activity also tied into our ongoing self esteem discussions of the importance of our online profiles being an authentic representation of ourselves.
To conclude the meeting, the girls took a five finger email etiquette quiz as an informal survey of what habits bother them or don’t bother them when receiving emails. They concluded that in most cases several habits are appropriate if sending messages among friends in a more casual setting, but some email habits should not be used in more formal messages.
Throughout the entire meeting the girls kept a list of Netiquette tips that would be finalized at their second meeting (one month later).
To complete the badge work the girl leaders, K.M, M.lL and A.Y invited Mrs. A, a computer teacher at school, to attend the meeting as a guest speaker. She guided the troop through a PowerPoint presentation covering digital citizenship. She informed the girls that they are all digital citizens since citizens are members of a community who interact with others online. In order to be good citizens she gave them the three rules to follow:
1. Be Safe
2. Be Responsible
3. Be Respectful
To be safe she explained the difference to the girls about private (information used to identify you, such as social security number, phone number, address, email) and personal (information that can’t be used to identify you such as age, gender, favorite foods) information. She also recommended that the girls should not use their real names on media accounts and introduced them to a name generator program on the internet. Each girl had the chance to enter things they liked without putting in their name and the program generated a list of creative screen names to choose from.
The second point was to be responsible. She quoted Spiderman “With great power comes great responsibility.” She enforced that the internet holds immense power and that we should use it in a positive way and not allow it to run you life.
Girls were encouraged to assess their internet and electronic usage to determine habits that may not be healthy and then to set boundaries or have someone set boundaries for them. She explained that the boundaries could involve hours, places, or activities when electronic devices may or may not be utilized.
The final digital citizenship tip was to be respectful. She explained to the group that words are eternal once the send or submit button is pushed. She suggested that the girls write down on paper what they want to say, put it away, check it again the next day, and continue this process until they get over it because once it is written in cyberspace it cannot be taken back. Additionally, she touched on posting comments or blogging and challenged the girls to comment on something positive. To sum up this point she quoted Thumper from Bambi, “If you can’t say something nice then don’t say nothing at all.”
The presentation went on to define and give some examples of cyber bullying. She explained that digital media provides just another medium for people who are going to be mean to do so. She recommended that the girls be a good friend, be smart, help each other out and to tell an adult if they are a victim.
Lastly, she discussed the importance of parental involvement and how parents can stay connected with them online. She enlightened the girls as to why their parents may have concerns or be confused since they did not grow up with the same opportunities and access that the girls have now. She told the girls about phone contracts that they can search online to find samples or create their own. She described different rules or techniques at home such as putting filters on the wireless router so one doesn’t have to be installed on each device, however she was quick to caution the group that this doesn’t help with 4G access so other limits from specific phone carries may be a better option and should be explored.
After the presentation, the girls worked together to establish their top 10 Netiquette tips which will be posted in the computer lab at school as a reminder to others about what they have learned.
Each girl was asked to completed the following sentence, “While working on our Netiquette badge, one thing I learned was…Cadettes, B.G and N.A both agreed: “The internet’s power, good and bad, is very powerful.”
After being told about the eternal nature of messaging and posting, Cadette B.B responded with “Be careful what you say.”
K.M and A.Y learned that “There is a difference between private and personal information.”
C.W, R.P and M.L all were excited about the fact that “I can use a name generator for social websites. Cadette R.P expanded on this saying: “This is a program that finds good names for the internet. Mine was sleepboxing37.” M.L was also intrigued and added: “This program picks reasonable names for you so if you’re stuck the name generator can help you.”
In a world where technology and internet access is difficult to avoid and ever changing, everyone learned that lines in the Girl Scout law, like being considerate and caring, honest and helpful, and respecting myself and others also apply to the internet and we can use it to make the world a better place!