Last month, I had the opportunity to partake in a FOSI virtual event: “COVID-19, Civility, and Citizenship,” as the Founder and CEO of ReThink, a social enterprise tackling online hate. Since the onset of COVID-19, I have seen immense and growing interest in having a conversation on what COVID-19 has meant for digital citizenship. To answer that question, I joined Rosalind Wiseman, the founder of Cultures of Dignity, an organization focused on supporting children’s mental health and well being, and it was a fascinating conversation. Here is what we learned:
First, COVID-19 gives parents and educators the opportunity to create a teachable moment around digital citizenship and civility. Many parents — of younger kids, and tech-savvy teens — have not had the “technology talk,” so to speak. Now is a great time to talk to your kids — about screen time, treating others with respect, and the responsibility associated with being a digital citizen. Parents can turn to tools like my anti-cyberbullying app, ReThink, for help. ReThink is an award-winning, innovative, patented app that effectively detects and stops online hate, before the damage is done. By giving adolescents a nudge in real-time (“Are you sure you want to post this?”), ReThink helps transform users into empowered, responsible digital citizens. To learn more about ReThink (available in six languages, now including French, Italian, and Greek):, visit: www.rethinkwords.com.
Second, COVID-19 has exposed a number of important, existing problems — especially in the educational world — and given us yet another reason to act. During COVID-19, disparities in access to critical learning resources - especially digital resources, like devices, Wi-Fi, etc. - have presented serious e-learning issues across the U.S. and globally. As Rosalind and I noted, these issues have always been there; COVID-19 has simply made it clear how important it is that we tackle them. We cannot let this moment get away from us — we must take action.
And indeed, one action, one conversation, and one moment can be powerful - and it all starts with you.
Click here to view the full conversation from COVID-19, Civility and Citizenship. This blog commemorates Internet Safety Month, which happens every June.