Becoming Digital Citizens

It is becoming more and more popular among the younger generation to be using digital technology. Students have access to and are using digital devices to interact with others online, to gather information, or to just have fun. They are actively engaging with the digital world around them and it is our job as teachers to educate and help students to become capable digital citizens, which Jason Ohler describes in an article as those “who use technology not only effectively and creatively, but also responsibly and wisely”.

Since technology is becoming a substantial part of student’s everyday lives, teachers have to take into consideration and find ways to help students build a positive interaction with the digital world. It is becoming more important for teachers to teach students to become good digital citizens. Many may question how we might do this in the classroom or what exactly we should be teaching them about the digital world. In the article Character Education for the Digital Age by Jason Ohler, he describes that:
“To teach our children this new citizenship, we need to fold their digital tools into the general flow of school. We need to not only help students learn to use these tools in smart, productive ways, but also help them place these tools in the larger context of building community, behaving responsibly, and imagining a healthy and productive future, both locally and globally.”

To start, we must engage students in thinking about what it means to be a digital citizen and what that might entitle. Then we can teach them about the etiquettes of being a digital citizen by teaching them about the norms of acceptable, responsible behaviour, with regard to technology use. In the article The Definition of Digital Citizenship, Terry Heick describes digital citizenship as “The quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” This encompasses the way we use, engage, participate, access, explore, and talk in the digital world.

The infographic below takes a more student-friendly approach by defining digital citizenship in terms of its actions and habits: using, sifting, mastering, creating–the literal actions that ultimately define the tone of a student’s interactions with their digital environments. This makes it useful not just as a visual for teacher understanding, but for students to discuss, internalize, and apply themselves.





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