Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching technique; it is a way to prep students/technology users for a society driven by technology. Digital citizenship is the continuously developing norms of appropriate, responsible and empowered technology use. 

The concept of Digital Citizenship has become an important area of educational knowledge not only in the United States but world wide. Whether referred to as digital citizenship, digital wellness or digital ethics, the issues remain the same: how should we act when we are using digital devices, interacting with others online, and what should be taught to help the next generation be better stewards when utilizing technology.

Children today are growing up in a different world from that which many of us remember from our childhoods. Technological advances have transformed the way kids live, learn and play. It is important for adults to adapt, too, to better prepare children to be smart and savvy digital citizens.

Good digital citizenship is about more than limited screen time or off-limits websites. It refers to appropriate, responsible and empowered use of technology. 

As new tech is developed, or more apps are released, the reasons for teaching good digital citizenship to children remain the same.  We, as adults, need to set good examples by following these rule ourselves—not do the old, do as I say, not as I do  credo.

Here are the top 3 reasons:

  • Digital Literacy: With just a few keystrokes and clicks, children can learn about pterodactyl wings or how to build a robot. The internet contains a universe of knowledge for children to explore, and with so much information, it is helpful to have a guide. Teaching children how to do something as simple as a Google search can open up doors to countless new ideas, cultures and places. With all of that, it is also essential to teach children about what is—and is not—a reputable source of information.  A discussion about reputable sources should include definitions of accuracy, relevancy, bias and reliability.

  • Keeping personal information personal: Kids are using the internet more than ever before, and that means they’re also facing regular exposure to requests for information. There are many situations and sites that can pose potential personal information risks and identity-theft threats. In order to be good digital citizens, kids need to know what information should be guarded, and which websites they can trust. Teaching children how to spot warning signs and remove themselves from a threatening digital situation will help them to feel safe online—and take full advantage of the many benefits the web has to offer.

  • Cyberbullying prevention:

    Cyberbullying is a serious issue, and it can be more difficult to detect than in-person bullying, especially if adults aren’t tuned into all of the digital platforms a child is using. Kids should learn early on what accounts for cyberbullying—including the posting, sharing or “liking” of harmful, false or mean content about someone else—and that any form of it is unacceptable. It is important to teach kids how to respond to and report any cyberbullying they might witness—and why they should report it. Doing so helps children become responsible, caring digital citizens, and citizens of the world at large.

Technology use among children and adults isn't likely to decrease anytime soon. Learning and teaching good digital citizenship helps to better prepare all children for success in school and in life.  

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