Why Digital Citizenship?

~ Seth Boyes, Innovative Learning Specialist

Digital Citizenship. . .

What comes to mind when you think of Digital Citizenship?  Do you think…

...it’s important.

...being nice online.

...watching what you post.

...using digital tools appropriately.


One could make the argument that it is all of those things and more.  Digital Citizenship is important because it affects everything we do in the digital landscape.  Mark Ribble defines digital citizenship in these nine areas (Nine Elements):

If you think about each one of those areas, we all participate in some form or fashion in the digital landscape.  Do you have a smartphone?  Think about how many areas you are involved with when it comes to digital citizenship by just having that device.  At the very least, these are the areas you are participating in: Digital Access, Digital Communication, Digital Literacy.  The other six areas are going to vary depending on the user.

How are your kids doing?  Talking to your kids about digital citizenship related to each of the areas listed above will only help them understand Digital citizenship and all that it encompasses.  Digital Citizenship can have far-reaching effects into adulthood both positively and negatively.  Having discussions now with your kids no matter their age could help save them from future headaches later on.

Every time we interact in the digital landscape we are leaving a footprint behind.  That digital footprint is one that does not go away as quickly as the one left in the sand on a beach.  It will follow us our entire lives.  Especially when it comes to what we are saying/posting online.  The old saying “just because you can, does not mean you should” stills holds true to the digital world.  We need to teach our children to filter what they do and say online.  I know this sounds cliche but ask your child(ren) if what they are doing or posting online is something they would want Grandma to see. Getting them to think before they post can be one of the greatest strengths we can give our children.  Doing so will only help them to continue navigating the ever changing landscape of the digital world as they continue to grow and eventually head out on their own.

This year the district took on an initiative to make digital citizenship an intention part of the culture here in the Elwood.  Back in September/October, an effort was made to give students five direct lessons focused on Digital Citizenship to cultivate an awareness of the topic and give us a base from which to talk about it as we embarked on a full roll-out of 1 to 1 devices for every student.  This was not all for nothing as the conversations have continued throughout the year because of those initial five lessons.  This conversation is one that will continually need to be had.

Here are a few resources to check out to help you with your conversation at home:

[1] "Nine Elements - Digital Citizenship." http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html. Accessed 5 Apr. 2017.