We certainly know that when it comes to technology, there is no turning back. Technology has changed our world forever.

As technology improves, our students must learn to be proficient and appropriate users at school and home.

In the classroom, technology provides information instantly and allows students to process, research and work more independently than ever before. Similarly, social media has become a modern-day playground. Social media is more and more becoming the place where young people socialize, learn, play games, make friends and may even encounter a cyber playground bully.

Common Sense Media reports that 95 percent of all teens ages 12-17 are now online. Eighty percent of online teens are users of social media sites and are entering the online world at younger ages. As classroom technology and social media continue to become a way of life, it is important that our youth learn the importance of digital citizenship.

Young people must realize that the words and images they publish today will be around tomorrow and beyond.

In the South-Western City School District, we make teaching digital citizenship a priority at all grade levels.

We encourage teachers to take time throughout the school year to help our students become responsible users. We begin with setting clear expectations for students and parents with our Acceptable Use Policy.

Students and parents are informed that we recognize technology as a vital tool in learning and we encourage a partnership between the home and the school in developing good digital citizens.

Teachers are provided a Digital Classroom Starter Kit. This kit is filled with resources and modules appropriate to the grade they teach. Teachers are also given a variety of lesson ideas and all grade levels emphasize cyber-bullying and the harmful effect it can have on students.

At the elementary school level, young students come to school with a varying degree of technology experience. Some have had exposure to various forms of technology, but many have not. This is why we focus on online safety, respect and not sharing personal information with strangers.

Our intermediate and middle school students are much more adept at using a computer, tablet and/or smartphone. We focus lessons on anti-bullying messaging and introduce the concept of a digital footprint to them.

This is the age group in which we want students to really think about what they post online and how it can reflect both positively and negatively on them in the future.

At the high school level, many of our students are preparing for college.

At this level, we emphasize the public vs. private role of social media.

Helping students understand what may be out there digitally that could potentially interfere with future plans is an essential part of our lessons.

The devices our students hold in their hands have a great deal of power.

We at SWCSD are committed to helping our students build a digital footprint in which they can be proud.

We ask that our community help by monitoring and discussing the choices young people make in their online environment. It can last a lifetime.

Bradford Faust is assistant superintendent of curriculum for the South-Western City School District.