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Digital Citizenship Summit Launched in West Hartford, Moves to Twitter

David Ryan Polgar and Dr. Marialice B.F.X Curran at the inaugural Digital Citizenship Summit in West Hartford in October 2015. Courtesy photo

The Digital Citizenship Summit which had its inaugural event in West Hartford last October, will be held at Twitter headquarters this year.

David Ryan Polgar and Dr. Marialice B.F.X Curran at the inaugural Digital Citizenship Summit in West Hartford in October 2015. Courtesy photo

Co-founders David Ryan Polgar and Dr. Marialice B.F.X Curran at the inaugural Digital Citizenship Summit in West Hartford in October 2015. Courtesy photo

By Ronni Newton

The inaugural Digital Citizenship Summit, co-founded by West Hartford resident David Ryan Polgar and Dr. Marialice B.F.X. Curran, was held at the University of Saint Joseph in October 2015. On Oct. 28, 2016, the event will move to Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, and serve as the launch event for U.S. Media Literacy Week.

“West Hartford was an ideal location to launch the inaugural Digital Citizenship Summit because it happens to contain some major players in the area of improving social media and tech use. West Hartford is the home of Dr. David Greenfield and the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, Jerri Lynn Hogg (noted media psychogist and international speaker), and the University of Saint Joseph, where digital citizenship pioneer Dr. Marialice B.F.X Curran was teaching,” Polgar said.

Although organizers weren’t certain that people from outside the area would come to West Hartford for the event, Polgar said they were thrilled to have more than 220 attend – area participants as well as people from California, Utah, Florida, Illinois, and other states attend, making the summit a top-trending event in the United States.

“For our next event happening at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, we will be having people come in from Australia, Ireland, England, and Spain. In other words, a major global idea is being brewed right in our backyard,” Polgar said.

According to a news release, this fall’s Digital Citizenship Summit will include a program combining a fast-paced and energetic mix of presentations, panels, videos, and awards. Organizations, companies from the digital technology industry, parenting experts, students, and more will play a role.

The summit will also be live streamed in order to reach an even larger global audience and broaden the “accessibility to digital citizenship and media literacy.”

According to Dr. Mike Ribble, author of “Digital Citizenship in Schools,” the term “digital citizenship” is defined as “the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use.”

“Society has adopted new social media platforms and technologies before we have collectively had the chance to determine what constitutes safe, savvy, and ethical behavior,” Polgar said in a news release about the summit. “There are multiple stakeholders who desire an active role in the process, including students, educators, parents, administrators, media specialists, and organizational leaders. All of these groups have crucial insight, and the Digital Citizenship Summit was setup to bring these voices together to solve current issues regarding social media and tech use.”

The issues, according to Polgar, are endless. “Some major areas of concern include how smartphones should or shouldn’t be used in the classroom, finding ways to improve civility online, adjusting to an Internet that never forgets our posts, and being able to determine the veracity of what we read online.”

The 2016 Digital Citizenship Summit will also serve as the kick-off event for U.S. Media Literacy Week (Oct. 31-Nov. 4) led by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). Media literacy “is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, communicate and create using all forms of media [NAMLE],” and an area of heightened relevance so close to the presidential election.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Digital Citizenship Summit and Twitter on this event,” NAMLE Executive Director Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, said in the release. “We are excited about bringing thought leaders in digital citizenship and media literacy together. There is so much to be done to ensure a media literate world and exploring digital citizenship is a great way to get the conversation going.”

In addition to NAMLE, other organizations involved in the Digital Citizenship Summit include Common Sense Media, Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), #iCANHELP, ConnectSafely, iKeepSafe, and Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids & Families.

“We are thrilled to have the involvement of so many prominent organizations,” co-founder Dr. Marialice B.F.X. Curran, said in the release. “By collaborating on this event we can expose a wide audience with some incredible resources that can be used at home or in the classroom.”

The goal of the summit is to encourage active – not reactive – participation in the digital future, Curran said. “We want people to be the digital change.”

Polgar said that he looks forward to the “open and collaborative” nature of the event, and its ability to attract new voices to the conversation about social media and tech use.

Polgar, a West Hartford resident, is a three-time TEDx speaker who speaks, writes, and consults about the impact of technology from an ethical, legal, and emotional perspective. His commentary has been featured in the Boston Globe, Financial Times, Sydney Morning Herald, SiriusXM, and online at CNN, Inc., BBC, Entrepreneur, and many more.

More information can be found at DigcitSummit.com.

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