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Digital Citizenship Introduction – For an Elementary Classroom

With technology being ever present in the classroom, teachers need to be teaching digital citizenship. Digital citizenship is an essential skill that must be taught in addition to our content standards. This post dives into what digital citizenship is, important terminology, and where you can start with your students.

What is Digital Citizenship? 

First, let’s discuss some terms that are important to know when discussing digital citizenship.

Digital Citizen: a person who uses information technology to be a part of society

Social Media: any website or app that allows users to create and share content and socialize with others

Digital Citizenship: using technology in a safe, appropriate and responsible way that promotes positive online interactions

Digital Footprint: the trail or traces that a person leaves every time they are online, all bits of information about yourself that is available to others

Digital Citizenship is like a road map for how students should be using technology and the internet. Students are getting information off of the internet and they need to know how to process and use that information all the while staying safe.

“… students must be active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical 

participants in our globally networked society.” 

(U.S. Department of Education, 2010)

Why is it important to teach about Digital Citizenship?

Many of our students have access to devices that can connect them to the world. These devices will connect them in new ways that can be both positive and negative. Teaching about digital citizenship prepares them to tip the scale towards the positive interactions instead of the negative ones.

Laptops, tablets, smartphones, iPads…. our students have access to many of them. Instead of looking at these devices as a toy, Digital Citizenship helps guide students to realize that these are tools that can help them learn while connecting them to the world. By teaching digital citizenship, you will be preparing your students to use social media in an appropriate and beneficial way.

Many students do not realize that they leave behind a digital footprint with each interaction that they have online. This footprint can impact their lives forever if they are not acting in a responsible manner while being online. Think about the time you spend online and all of the things you see. From ads to negative posts to inappropriate websites, it is all out there for our students to see and find.

Many sites lend themselves to ease of cyberbullying which is another challenge our students face in the world we live in now.

By teaching digital citizenship, you are teaching students how to navigate the rough waters that our students tread while they are online.

Why Digital Citizenship in the classroom?

For me, it’s a no-brainer. Many districts are starting to adopt 1:1 or shared technology initiatives. In addition, many teachers are beginning to incorporate technology as part of their homework or in relation to classroom assignments (project-based learning activities, research projects, Genius Hour projects). This added use for technology in the classroom means the pressure is on us (don’t worry… it’s on the parents too) to teach our students how to function in the digital world and how to be a digital citizen. 

So where do you even begin?

Don’t worry- I’ve got you covered. I took some time to map out the five main steps to teaching digital citizenship in a handy guide, wrapped it up with a pretty bow and I want to share it with you for FREE! Simply click here or the image below sign up to have the guide and free printables sent right to your inbox! 

Digital citizenship doesn’t have to be overwhelming for you. Students enjoy talking about the impact their technology use has on the world. Engage them with scenarios, questions and facts and you are sure to keep their attention! Pin the image below to save this blog post for later.

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