Learning About Digital Citizenship

Let me start at the beginning with a simple definition of digital citizenship.

The Teach Thought website defines it as, “The quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.”

Teach Thought also has a fantastic infographic that shows a more visual definition of what digital citizenship is.  I think this would be a fantastic reminder to hand out to students at the beginning of the year, and to have hanging in the classroom.

Technology is everywhere and students are likely using it on a daily basis.  Many have technology in the palm of their hands in the form of cell phones.  Twenty years ago, when I was a high school student myself, we had limited access to the internet.  Few people had cell phones and they were most definitely not students.  Today, children have access right at their finger tips, and it often goes unmonitored.

We teach children how to be good citizens out in the real world.  We teach them to be polite, follow the laws and rules put in place, be respectful of others, and to make good choices, just to name a few.  There is a whole new community that’s been created online, and people now need to learn how to navigate that world as good citizens-as good digital citizens.


(Photo from Flickr by Slyviaduckworth)

Though technology has opened a whole new door to learning, we also need to remember that it’s opened a whole new door that allows students to be bullied in a whole new way-cyberbullying.  In the past, children could get away from their bullies at home.  They had an oasis and a break from the torment.  Today, with social media and texting, a bully now has access to their victim 24 hours a day.  Teach Thought lists alarming statistics in their article 7 Ways to Prevent Cyberbullying:

*45% of children admit they have experienced bullying online
*More than 40% say they have become the bullies’ target
*70% admit they have witnessed cyberbullying
*50% of children admit to be scared of their online bullies
*92% of cyberbullying attacks are held through chatting and commenting on social media websites
*Cyberbullying victims are 3 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide
*Only 2 in 10 victims will inform their parents or teachers of online attacks

Children also need to understand the digital footprint that they are leaving behind.  They need to realize that what they put online is there forever.  They to understand that what they post online is a reflection of who they are, so which reflection do they want people to see?   As Juan Enriquez points out in his Ted Talk video, what you post online is as permanent as a tattoo.

A teacher or even a parent may want to use Craig Badura’s idea of a digital citizenship survival kit in which he places:

The padlock is to remind students to set strong passwords and to set up passcode locks on all of their digital devices.   “Lock ’em down” as we like to say in our Digital Citizenship lessons.  

I tell students to think that passwords and toothbrushes are very similar in the fact that you NEVER want to share passwords.  (I do highly encourage/recommend that students to share passwords with parents) 

Permanent Marker
Everything that you put online is permanent….even if you hit the delete button after posting.  Odds are someone has retweeted, favorited,  or taken a screenshot of the material if it was questionable.  

Imagine the information that you are putting online is like the toothpaste coming out of the tube.  Once it is out, it is almost impossible to get it all back in the tube!  (Thanks to @Mandery for that prop idea!)

Sometimes, seeing something tangible in their hands can help students better understand the lesson that is being taught, and this digital citizenship survival kit does just that.

As I was researching the topic of digital citizenship through my online digital literacy class, a pop-up ad appeared from Skype.  Oh the irony of having a message like this pop up as I was researching a topic that tries to help people understand the very opposite of what the message is trying to convey.  Remember, to always do your best to be good citizens not only out and about in the real world, but in the digital world as well.

And remember, unlike what Skype says, there is such a thing as oversharing.











I'm a mother of 3 wonderful boys, a wife, a college student working towards my elementary education degree, an aspiring children's book author, an avid volunteer, and a substitute teacher. I love being outdoors, reading, spreading kindness, spending time with family, learning, and teaching.

5 thoughts on “Learning About Digital Citizenship

    1. Thanks! It sure has been interesting reading through posts about it. There was so much information to read through, so it was quite neat to see what everyone decided to post about.


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