What kinds of ethical considerations should be a factor for students using new media?
Levison (2009) discussed the importance of being aware that an item or tool by itself is neither positive or negative, it is more about the way humans choose to engage with it. My observation of a range of people in educational circles is that technology provides so many ‘dangers’, this has been connected to mobile/smart phones, gaming, Facebook and the like. The reality is that neither of these tools present as an ethical issue, the ethical issue is directly related to their use and consequently the choices those who use them make. James, Davis, Flores, Francis, Pettingill, Rundle, and Gardner (2008, 45) comment on this:
Digital youth who also possess the cognitive skills and motivation to consider the implications of their activities are well-poised to use their ‘powers’ to engage in ‘good play.’ Yet the acquisition of these literacies—technical, social, and ethical—also depends on forces outside of a young person’s control, including the availability of ethical supports such as mentors and new media literacy curricula.
Gee (2007) also touched on this need to provide opportunity for play to enable learning and understanding of consequence. This is the key to enabling young people to develop ethical behaviour that they can be proud of. This must be supported in an environment that allows for learning rather than one that runs away due to the perceived ‘dangers’.
Young people and older people alike need to be aware that they are creating a digital footprint, this is part of their identity and cannot be separated from who they are in the flesh. Consideration must be given to the unintended audience and the consequences of their interpretation of what one places in online environments – as presented in Protecting Your Digital Footprint.
When reading Seiter’s (2008) article another dimension needs to be considered and that is the impact that access to the tools, such as computers and programs, that enable one to be a participant online. When there is reduced access to such tools there is less time available to learn in safe environment that will support the development of literacy skills that are connected to cultural expectations. Online communities are not void of social interplay and capital.
This is where I get excited for those students involved in Minecraft at my school and those that are involved in#massivelyminecraft across the globe. They are participating in online communities that have good mentors that support their learning and consequently are able to learn about being in such environments.
James Paul Gee, “Pleasure, Learning, Video Games, and Life: The Projective Stance,” in Michele Knobel and Colin Lankshear (eds.), A New Literacies Sampler (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), pp.95-114.
Carrie James with Katie Davis, Andrea Flores, James M. Francis, Lindsey Pettingill, Margaret Rundle and Howard Gardner, 2008, “Young People, Ethics, and the New Digital Media,” pp.1-62.
Levinson, P. (2009). New new media. Boston: Pearson. (Chapter 11: “The dark side of new new media”).
Seiter, E. “Practicing at Home: Computers, Pianos, and Cultural Capital.” Digital Youth, Innovation, and the Unexpected. Edited by Tara McPherson. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 27–52. doi: 10.1162/dmal.9780262633598.027