I find it amazing that people who are cognizant of the basic rules of civility and courtesy in “real life” feel that their digital life should not follow the same rules. The article about Digital Citizenship and where the University of Michigan Teaches Digital Etiquette to Middle School Children were on point. The young people using the Internet may or may not have had good role models to learn from. Their parents may not be as Internet savvy as the children or they may just be oblivious to the dangers of exposure on the Internet. Children are sharing far too much information and are not fully aware of the true danger. Aside from predators, some the danger is in the backyard of the children. There have been many documented cases of children or teenagers committing suicide as a result of online bullying. Often the bullying is by their peers or classmates. I believe it is essential that children and young adults be taught proper behavior on the Internet because the Internet is “real life” and the consequences are dramatic.
The University of Michigan is preparing teachers to have the complex conversations with students about the Internet, its use and safety. Once information is out on the Internet, it can’t be taken back. Even inadvertent and random behavior is being monitored for sales purposes. In the video Adam Ruins Everything he mentioned a real life case of a woman who was “outed” as gay on Facebook based upon her seemingly random behavior and likes. Future employers will check profiles and do Internet searches before making a job offer. Try typing your name into Google, photos will pop up and be associated with you even if they are old or you “took them down” from the site. Being safe on the Internet is as essential a life skill as learning to drive a car. A generation has grown up surrounded by the Internet yet it has not been afforded the tools and rights to protect it from those that would harvest information for their own use. Which leads me to the next point, there needs to be a recognition of a legal right for an individual to remain private or remove their personal information from the internet. Individuals should have a “delete” button and it should actually delete the information or photos.
On a positive note, technological improvements to health care are having a major impact on controlling costs and delivering good care to individuals. An x-ray at a rural hospital can be read by a specialist thousands of miles away in a matter of minutes because of the Internet. Doctors in the article can adjust dosage and medication via a microchip and the Internet. People can monitor their health and transmit the information to their doctor and save on costly visits and transportation if they are disabled. Again, the above are just a few positive aspects of the benefits of Internet use and are evidence of the amazing improvements that will help mankind. The benefits just have to be balanced against safety and privacy, which are rights that should be protected.