Turning Digital Natives into Responsible Digital Citizens
Digital Citizenship: It’s a lot like the regular Citizenship character trait you probably learned about in grade school, but with a whole new set of rules. Put simply, Digital Citizenship is defined as being responsible, respectful, and safe online. But that’s a very surface level definition of what has recently become a very deep, often complicated, topic to navigate.
According to Common Sense Education, digital citizenship encompasses all aspects of your presence online, including:
- privacy & security
- relationships & cyberbullying
- copyright & fair use
- information literacy
- the digital footprint left behind after all that online activity
It’s amazing how many of our students are using Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr daily. Think of all the crazy things you come across scrolling through your Facebook feed each day! Now, imagine trying to process all those dramatic posts, negative comments, product advertisements, photoshopped images, and fake news articles as a child or teenager who is just trying to make sense of their world. If we have adults commenting irresponsibly or believing everything they read on the internet, what on Earth are our kids going to do?
This is where Digital Citizenship comes in. Today’s students are digital natives and technology is their first language. Regardless of what kinds of limits and parameters adults set, our students are going to be online a lot throughout their life. Students as young as 3 are using tablets and students as young as middle school are enrolled in online classes.
So rather than only filtering or limiting things online (which we still need to do!), it’s essential that we also teach students to be productive members of the online community, for all those times when we aren’t watching.
Healthy Habits of Digital Learners
There’s a lot that we can teach about digital citizenship, but here are a few big points I always try to hit with my students.
- Limit personal information shared online.
- Think before you post! Your online presence is like a digital sharpie, it can never truly be erased.
- Understand where your information is coming from and cite it correctly.
- Know when to trust a source and when to check your facts (#fakenews).
- Respect the person behind the screen.
Like anything in life, digital citizenship takes practice. As teachers, we’re in a unique position to show our students how technology can be used to educate, create, collaborate, and engage with the world in entirely new ways. Every time technology is integrated into a lesson, remind them of those healthy online habits. With enough practice, we will inspire a new wave of responsible digital citizens.
Digital Citizenship Resources
Since this is a new topic for a lot of us, it’s tough to know where to start with your students. Luckily, Nearpod is here to help! And, they’ve teamed up with experts like Common Sense Education to create future-ready resources that are sure to put your students on the right path.
Below you’ll see a preview of their complete bundle of Digital Citizenship Resources. There’s something for every grade level and topic included. You can also preview lessons with LITE bundles.
To explore the entire Digital Citizenship and Literacy collection click here.
Kali is a tech-savvy elementary teacher whose passion for all things STEM fuels her innovation in the classroom and inspires other teachers to begin their own #edtech adventures.