Monday, October 20, 2014 - 10:18

It’s Digital Citizenship Week across the country which is a great time to remind students what it means to be a responsible digital citizen. As one teacher noted “I always like to remind my students that first impressions used to start with handshakes, but now they begin with a Google search.” In fact, the majority of employers will Google an applicant’s name prior to interviewing or hiring, making what students post online a direct reflection of their personality and life style – whether they mean for it to be that way or not.

Image by venosdale/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

According to, the average teen spends 458 minutes using social media EACH DAY. Spending that much time online can surely lead to some fun, but can also cause trouble. Teaching students to be a responsible digital citizen means a variety of things including responsibility, privacy, leadership and safety. Below are some ideas to help get the digital citizen conversation started with students and remind them that what they post online is essentially permanent. Just like a toddler taking a Sharpie to a newly painted wall, what they post is pretty difficult to erase.

  1. Education technology blogger Shannon Long promotes Digital Citizenship Week by creating a series of images using the acronym THINK, to remind students of questions to ask themselves before posting online: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

  2. Shannon Miller, a teacher librarian who works with all ages of students, authored a set of books to helps children understand digital citizenship. “I went to my friends at Rosen Publishing and asked them if I could write a series of books that would help teachers and parents have conversations with young students about important topics. The series is called Internet Do’s and Don’ts and includes titles such as Be Nice Online, Don’t Share Your Address Online, and Don’t Share Your Plans Online. You can see them here.

  3. Remind students that not everyone they meet online is who they say they are. Just because someone says they are a 7th grader who lives in Michigan and plays ice hockey, doesn’t mean they are telling the truth. Advise students to keep their own personal information private just as they would if they were meeting a stranger on the street. Encourage students to speak up if they feel someone online is not who they say they are, or if they are feeling bullied, threatened or uncomfortable by someone they’ve met online – even if they’ve chatted with that person before.

  4. Engage students in conversations about leadership. Being a leader online is just as important as being one in the classroom, on the sports field and in the community. Leaders model good behavior and their posting online should reflect that, even if the post or photo didn’t come directly from the student. Sharing an offensive or damaging post or photo can cause just as much damage as a unique posting. Students should be mindful of what they like, share and retweet just as much as they should be mindful of what they chose to personally post online.

  5. Don’t discount the fact that social media is fun. It’s a great way to connect with people from all over the world to share ideas, information and learn about other cultures. It’s important to teach students good internet safety practices while keeping them excited and engaged in our digital world.

Bottom line – we’re ALL digital citizens and it’s up to ALL of us to take care of our digital world.

**We want to hear from you! Comment below to let us know how you teach your students and/or children to be good digital citizens.**

Visit the sites below to learn more about DCW and find lesson plans and videos to further educate students about their time online:

Add comment

Log in or register to post comments