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The urgency of digital citizenship curriculum in combating hoaxes

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2023

Zamzami Zainuddin, Kuala Lumpur – "Digital citizenship" is using technology and social media ethically and responsibly. In today's digital age, it is very common for misleading information or hoaxes to spread swiftly through social media and other online channels. As a result, individuals may make judgments based on inaccurate or misleading information, which can have severe repercussions.

To address such issues through an educational approach, a course on digital citizenship in schools or universities can teach students how to identify false news and prevent it from spreading. A digital citizenship curriculum can minimize the spread of fake information, or hoax, by teaching individuals how to access online information sources and content wisely.

Students will be taught how to evaluate the sources and substance of the information they receive online, including identifying biases and determining the credibility of sources, which can be an essential component of a digital citizenship curriculum that can aid in preventing the spread of false information. Integrating "digital citizenship" into the formal curriculum in schools and universities can be an alternative resolution to controlling the spread of lies and hoaxes and making the internet community more educated and responsible, particularly among youth and academic communities.

Many students and young people in Indonesia have fallen for hoaxes or spread hate speech because of a lack of subjects or school programs to educate them to be good digital citizens. Although the topic has been integrated into civic education and religion, it must be more thoroughly oriented.

Fake news or misleading information can be a threat to democracy. In a democratic society, people need to be able to acquire reliable information so they can make good decisions. People who hear false information can start to believe and understand things inaccurately. It can affect how they vote and take part in the democratic process.

Misinformation can also hurt trust in democratic institutions and the media, which are important for holding people in power accountable. Hoaxes and intentionally made-up information can do much damage because they are meant to trick people. By making it harder for people to make decisions based on accurate information, spreading false information can hurt the foundation of democracy.

Fake news and hoaxes are spread massively through social media and other online platforms, particularly during political races or election years. For example, many fake news and hoaxes spread before the 2019 Indonesian presidential election to sway voters.

Social media has influenced many people's daily lives. It allows people to connect and share information instantly and has become a major source of news and information. People sleep with smartphones and wake up to check social media in bed.

Most people spend more than half of their daily lives on the internet. As a result, our lives today are divided into two parts: The digital and the real world. Behaving properly in the digital world must be as important as in real life.

Furthermore, cybercrime is rapidly increasing and primarily affecting youth. Individuals are instructed to secure their personal information online and identify and avoid online frauds and hucksters. Most students are also potentially implicated in cybercrimes, including e-mail scams, cyberbullying, drug trafficking, intimidation, internet pornography, and examination fraud.

The digital citizenship curriculum is expected to promote awareness of cybercrime among Indonesian teenagers. Students and the academic community have become adept at using digital devices.

The school community must consent to enshrine digital citizenship in the curriculum for a strong and healthy academic culture to grow. Meanwhile, digital citizenship is best taught separately from other subjects, such as civic education or religion. This is because the discussion or area of digital citizenship is comprehensive with nine elements: digital access, digital commerce, digital communication, digital literacy, digital etiquette, digital law, digital rights, digital health, and digital security.

In some countries, such as Switzerland or Hong Kong, digital citizenship curricula have even been implemented in elementary education to teach kids to be safe and responsible online. Because many children use their smartphones to play games or watch YouTube videos, it is the responsibility of the digital citizenship curriculum to educate them and their parents on how much time they should spend online each day.

The simple subject for primary schools is to educate children and their parents to track how much time they spend online and explain why off-screen or digital limits at home benefit their well-being. It is a basic illustration of the digital citizenship topic for elementary school kids; the issues should correspond to the student's educational level.

Students in secondary and postsecondary education can learn more about advanced themes such as fake information distribution, online safety, privacy, media literacy, and digital footprint. The Indonesian Education, Culture, Research and Technology Ministry should also seriously work on designing and developing the contextual digital citizenship curriculum for school students and higher education institutions to educate youths and academic communities to become good digital citizens.

With the political year arriving, fake information may increase and extensively spread on social media. Therefore, digital citizenship education through the curriculum is pressing.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2023/01/17/the-urgency-of-digital-citizenship-curriculum-in-combating-hoaxes.htm