Why Digital Citizenship Matters

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It’s Digital Citizenship Week! This week we will be featuring a series of blog posts on the topic of digital citizenship, and we want to hear from you. Please comment, interact with us on Twitter (@SASEducator) and Facebook , to tell us what is working in your classroom and your home.

digitalcitwk1When schools make the move to include mobile devices in their classrooms, there are necessary logistical changes – increased infrastructure, professional development for teachers and policies surrounding how the devices can be used and maintained, to name a few. A major philosophical area for schools to include in these changes is digital citizenship. Students have high levels of smartphone and tablet ownership and access, and they seem to know what they’re doing with mobile devices. But does that mean they know how to handle themselves responsibly in regards to privacy, judgment, social interactions and balancing the real world with screen time? This delineation between digital fluency (using a device), and digital literacy (responsible, productive interactions with the technology) is what's at issue here. All of these issues, which didn’t exist 10 years ago in the formal classroom setting, are encompassed under digital citizenship and should be explicitly discussed.

Just as schools teach students to be good citizens of the world – arming them with knowledge so they can go to college, get a job and understand their responsibility to society – the imperative for teaching digital citizenship becomes greater and greater as mobile devices become more prevalent. Teaching kids to remain safe and secure on the internet, to understand the impact of actions online, and to communicate responsibly – these are just a few of the vital topics under the digital citizenship umbrella.

Common Sense Media has been the pioneer in providing guidance and resources on digital citizenship, and they offer eight guiding categories. These will guide our posts through Digital Citizenship Week on this blog: 

  • Internet Safety
  • Privacy and Security
  • Relationships and Communication
  • Cyberbullying
  • Digital Footprint and Reputation
  • Self-Image and Identity
  • Information Literacy
  • Creative Credit and Copyright

These categories guide and categorize the resources available on Common Sense Media’s website, but serve as a good mental model of all of the areas for development in today’s children. As teachers and parents are figuring out how to keep their private data secure and how to interact responsibly with friends and colleagues, students are figuring out the same things, only with much less knowledge of the world and digital fluency. It is, therefore, hugely important to formally educate students on how to use their mobile devices productively and ensure their online actions today do not ruin their future opportunities.

What does your school do to teach students about digital citizenship when they use computers and mobile devices? What do you wish they did? Have your students take the Digital Citizenship pledge today!

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About Author

Jamie McQuiggan

SAS Technical Writer and Author

Jamie McQuiggan is a Technical Writer specializing in education topics. She recently published Implement, Improve and Expand your Statewide Longitudinal Data System: Creating a Culture of Data in Education. McQuiggan is currently working on a new book, to be published in early 2015: Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Developers, Educators and Learners.

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