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Lessons for Digital Citizenship during COVID-19

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Like many of you, I have been watching my social media feed and it’s filled with news of COVID-19. And like you, I have felt both fear and anger fueled by what I’m seeing shared on social media. As I’m worried and saddened by the damage of the virus itself, I’m also concerned about the misinformation I’m seeing online.

So, how do we practice digital citizenship during COVID-19? Here are a few thoughts and tips that might be helpful when you are consuming or sharing content on social media throughout this pandemic.

When consuming content:

Beware of the messenger. The person who continues to flood their feed with gloom and doom might be struggling with their mental health and might not be mindful or selective in the content they are sharing. My advice is to unfollow or at least mute for 30 days if their posts constantly stir up anger in your heart.

Read beyond the headline. When an article with an emotionally charged headline is shared, it’s often shared in haste. First, make sure you have read through the entire article. Second, make sure to check the source and ask yourself, “Is this credible?” Third, make sure to check the date. The article or blog might have been written months ago and no longer applies.

Take a break. Even though we work with schools to help them manage social media, our staff also recognizes that it’s important to sometimes unplug and take a break especially in light of COVID-19.

When sharing content:

I believe all the tips above for consuming content also apply to sharing content. Here are some additional questions that can help guide you when sharing content related to COVID-19.

1. Is what you are sharing actually helpful? Is it useful or will this only stir up feelings of hopelessness, anger or lead to more conspiracy theories?

2. Is the source credible and accurate? Have you read the entire article? Have you checked the date?

3. Do I have something to add to this? Do I have the credentials to speak to this particular subject? For instance, understanding how the DNA structures differ across viruses may not fit into my professional expertise.

4. How can I share content that will inspire and encourage others? Would I be embarrassed of a particular post I made during this time?

As we share and connect during COVID-19, being mindful of digital citizenship is important and being a digital leader is no longer an option, but truly essential when working in education.

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