News  |  ,   |  June 19, 2018

Cultivating cyber-wisdom through character education

News article by Tom Harrison. Published in Culture Feed.


For some, the advancement of digital technologies and their rapid adoption has created a moral crisis for individuals as well as broader society. For others, they present an opportunity to tackle moral concerns on a global scale. The truth is probably somewhere in-between and that both these positions have merit.  A further truth is that researchers have struggled to keep pace with recent digital technological developments. Gaining a clear picture about the effects of the Internet, mobile phones and other digital technologies on humans and humanity has been challenging.  What is clear, both from research, but also the daily experiences of young people, parents, teachers and others is that these new technologies have poised some big moral questions.  Global moral concerns such as cyber-bullying, online plagiarism, piracy, fake news and many others have become a reality for most of us since the start of the millennium.  These concerns are prominent in the media yet often contested on conceptual or empirical grounds in academia.  Yet, the evidence shows that moral concerns, such as those listed above, are on the rise globally.  There are also those who seek to counter the negative picture; they say digital technologies can be the driver of informed, collaborative, active and positive citizenship activities.

If children and young people are to become cyber-citizens then we require educational policies that encourage them to be critically reflective on their use of digital technologies.  One approach is to seek, through deliberate educational efforts, to cultivate Cyber-wisdom (what Aristotle might have called cyber-phronesis) in our children and young people. Cyber-wisdom can be defined as doing the right thing, at the right time especially when no one is watching (Harrison, 2016).   The substantial work carried out by the Jubilee Centre into how neo-Aristotelian character educational theory can be applied in practice provides some guidance on how cyber-wisdom can be ‘taught’ in schools (see [ …]