Digital Citizenship for Students

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I just got an e-mail from Common Sense Media alerting me that it is Digital Citizenship Month (Per the unwritten law of education: “Every month shall have at least one theme,”).  Digital citizenship is related to the idea of digital literacy that I have discussed in other posts (Remember, digital literacy is a goal under the new Common Core State Standards).  However, while digital literacy is concerned with how to interpret what we see in the online world, digital citizenship refers to how we (and students) present themselves and what they share online.  Edutopia has a great Five-Minute Film Festival video giving a brief rundown of how digital citizenship feeds digital literacy.

While some of us have grown up on the fringe of the blossoming online community (I was an avid AIM user in middle school and an active MySpace member in high school), most of us were not explicitly taught what Edutopia refers to as the “rules of the road” with online communication — at least not at school.  This is because digital citizenship is a relatively recent idea.  It has only been sixteen years since the first AOL instant message and a mere eighteen years ago, Newsweek’s headlines read The Internet? Bah! Hype alert: Why cyberspace isn’t, and will never be, nirvana (Just take a moment and imagine how hard that writer and editor are kicking themselves now).  We didn’t learn it because nobody knew we would need it.  Today, we should know better.   If one of our aims as teachers is to make students college and career ready and to also make students who can be involved citizens of the world, digital citizenship is a must.  This is important not just for the safety of our students, but is an important skill for students to have when looking for jobs or colleges (Free hint: don’t put up photos of you sloppy drunk on your Facebook when applying for – or even if you already have – teaching jobs!  You’re welcome.)

Social Media Map

The changing face of our global community.  Facebook is a major world power! Source 

Common Sense Media is really a great resource to know about in general.  They rate media of all kinds (movies, television shows, games, websites, apps, etc.) for age-appropriateness and educational value.  They’ve teamed up with the state of California to develop a Common-Core-aligned curriculum that addresses digital citizenship.  The kit is available for free on their website.  There are activities for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 that deal with issues such as:

  • What sites are safe and reliable versus unsafe and unreliable
  • What kinds of information to share or leave private and with whom
  • Evaluating your personal media use
  • Being “media smart”
  • Evaluating the role of personal media in society

This is definitely a resource worth the 45 minutes each session is designed to take.  You really owe it to your students to check this out.  You might learn something yourself, too!

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