Digital Citizenship: Teaching Responsible Use of Technology

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  • 0:05 Definition of Digital…
  • 0:44 Aspects of Digital Citizenship
  • 4:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derek Hughes
Students become digital citizens at a very young age as they learn to use more digital devices. This lesson provides you with tips and strategies for helping your students become responsible digital citizens.

Definition of Digital Citizenship

Every person, young or old, who connects with the world through digital tools is a digital citizen. Digital citizenship is the set of rules and responsibilities we follow when interacting with the world through electronic and online means. As computers and other devices become more prominent in the classroom, and instructors expand their use of technology in the classroom, it is important that students are taught good, responsible digital citizenship. This lesson will outline some of the aspects of responsible digital citizenship and how you can teach responsible use of technology in your classroom.

Aspects of Digital Citizenship

Effective Communication

First, let's look at effective digital communication. Being a member of the digital community means connecting with millions of other people around the world at any given time through the use of effective communication and responsible use of electronic tools. Since keyboarding ideas is very different from speaking them aloud, students should learn early on how to convey their thoughts and feelings in a digital format. Communication can take the form of a discussion post, email or text message.

A good way to provide this kind of training is by using a class forum or website, through which students can reply to posts and converse with each other about school topics. For example, every Monday the teacher can post a question of the week that requires a student response. In addition to answering the question, students must also reply to their classmates, which allows them to practice putting their thoughts and ideas on the Web.

Respectful Communication

Next, let's look at mutual respect. One of the biggest pitfalls people fall into when communicating in the digital world is forgetting the person on the other side of the screen. Often, we become so passionate about our ideas and feelings that we forget we are having a conversation with another human being, and not just sending words out into the void. As students are expected to collaborate and communicate with others through a computer or other digital device, it is important that they remain respectful of differences in opinion.

A good way to have students practice respectful communication is to have them engage in a debate through the classroom forum. Remind students that whatever they feel comfortable keyboarding, they should also feel comfortable saying in person. To reinforce the point, have them read their debate replies out loud to their debate partners. If students are uncomfortable with this activity, they might need to rethink what they typed.


Lastly, let's look at self-protection. Arguably the most important thing about digital citizenship is the ability to connect with many different people from all around the world. This connectedness allows students to get new ideas and perspectives from someone they might never have had the chance to interact with in person. However, this constant connection with other people can also have some major drawbacks.

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