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  • Our school is a caring and multicultural environment.

    With students from over 50 nationalities, our school values respect and integrity. Our children excel socially, personally and academically.

    Our School - British International School Ho Chi Minh City

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Working together to develop digital citizens

Technology continues to have an increasing impact on our lives and this has enabled us to do things previously unheard of, but it has also opened a Pandora’s Box of issues we need to be thinking about.

Digital Citizenship - BIS HCMC

Google has just turned 20, the iPad is about to turn 9 and Fortnite is just a toddler at 20 months old. As adults, these are new additions to our lives and so we are apprehensive of them, but for our children and all the students at our school, they are just a normal part of their lives. While children are exploring new technologies, the role of the parent and teacher is to be their guide, their confidant and sometimes the police officer. In order for our children to develop healthy relationships with technology, to actively manage their screen time and to become positive digital citizens we need to be taking an active role in their learning process.

Digital Literacy, Cyber Safety and Digital Citizenship are things that we talk about each week in ICT lessons, but they are such important concepts that we need to be talking about them not just at school, but at every opportunity where there is a link and teachable moment. As parents, we have several strategies that we can use to help guide children through the technology minefield, but building a wall to keep them away from technology or leaving them to their own devices are not ways that meet our children’s social and emotional developmental needs.

Be active, not reactive – if you learn with your child you will form an open dialogue about digital literacy and they will feel confident coming to you if there is a problem. Mr Luke Dyer, Head of Primary ICT & DT

In class, we look at the whole picture of becoming digitally literate – secure passwords, digital communication, social media, cyber bullying, internet searching and developing a media balance. From the moment they first start using a device in school we discuss how to keep the device safe from being damaged and how to keep themselves safe from the possible ‘Nasties’ on the net. We use interactive games, collaborative activities, create individualised digital rules, but the most important learning and connections come from unplanned events. When we come across Pop-Ups, we look at why they are there, how they influence us and discuss how they could possibly open us up to being infected by a computer virus. In lessons, we sit with students and look through their email and internet history and start a 1 to 1 discussion about how they are using their devices. We discuss ways to create media balance and what we should do when we find things that we did not want to see.

Key to our Aide Memoire are the words “Global Citizens learning together” and in the world that we live a Global Citizen is a Digital Citizen. In class, all students are able to demonstrate a good understanding of what it means to be a Digital Citizen, but we also want this to carry over to their lives outside the classroom and this is where you take the baton and continue the race.

Regardless of your child's age, there will still be the need for you to be a part of their digital development and it can seem daunting when children are using technology in ways that you might not understand. As teachers, we use Common Sense Education as a starting point and we also have a parent portal to help keep you in the loop. The Common Sense Parent page is not just about computers, but looks at movies, music and games and has reviews and suggested age ranges for each.

As a parent, there are many things that you can do to help your child in their digital journey. Be active, not reactive – if you learn with your child you will form an open dialogue about digital literacy and they will feel confident coming to you if there is a problem. If you do not take time to talk with your child you may only know of a problem when it is too late.

Co-create rules for digital devices. Your child is more likely to be happy with the rules if they have had a part in creating them. Think about how long devices should be used for, where they can be used and what is appropriate for them to be engaging in. Remember, if you model the same rules that you are asking your child to live by then you have a better chance of them having an impact.

In order to become a Digital Citizen, we need to become a well-rounded person and learn how to moderate. Playing computer games is fun, but can be a very solitary activity, so get involved and try and play the games with your child and then ask them to turn it off and do something active.

Excuse the pun, but the key message here is: do not leave your children to their own devices. Help them monitor their consumption; if they are not making healthy choices then you need to make them for them. Be aware of what they are doing online, who they are talking to and what they are viewing. Finally, remember that it is not just managing one device, but all devices – turning off a computer to go and turn on an iPad is not a solution. Over the next few days set aside some time to talk with your child about their digital lives and think about how you can make a positive change in the way they use technology.

Mr Luke Dyer, Head of Primary ICT & DT


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