Digital citizenship is a concept that enables teachers, administrators, parents, and technology teams to teach students how to use the internet appropriately. Students who develop a strong sense of digital citizenship are also developing skills that can help them navigate through college and their careers. To be a good digital citizen is to understand what kind of behavior is appropriate and responsible when using technology.

Digital citizenship is especially important in American schools. According to EdWeek’s Market Brief, over half of the teachers and students in the United States have access to school-provided computers. Many schools have implemented BYOD (bring your own device) policies as well. On one hand, this means that students and teachers have access to more educational opportunities than ever. On the other hand, it is now easier than ever for students to abuse their Internet usage in the classroom. Whether you are a teacher or a parent, it is important to have conversations about digital ethics and good online behavior. Keep the door open and talk to them about appropriate technology usage. By gaining knowledge about how to behave online, students will be able to use the Internet responsibly for the rest of their life.

Social media sites like Instagram and Facebook give students ample opportunity to express themselves on the web. Many post pictures of what they eat or what movie they saw. However, this innocent behavior can easily become dangerous. By posting every aspect about their life, a student may end up publishing content about themselves that may damage their online image. This can lead to lost opportunities in the future. U.S. News and World Report states that 35% of college admissions officers examine students’ social media presence. Also, according to CareerBuilder, 70% of employers check applicants’ social media accounts. Students must be aware of the risks of participating in social networking sites. Open conversations and classroom instruction about digital citizenship can help students make the right choices when it comes to the way they present themselves online.

The concept of digital citizenship extends to unethical and illegal activities as well. Unethical usage of the Internet can result in the theft of personal identities or property. Hacking into another person’s information, stealing someone’s words, downloading illegal music and sending spam are all unethical — and sometimes illegal — online activities. All student and technology users need to understand that there are rules they must follow to keep themselves and others safe online.

Some students may not even realize that their online behavior is dangerous and damaging. It is always important to respect and educate these students. Take a step back and then take time to educate them on the proper digital etiquette. In doing so, you protect them from further damage to their personal life, as well as their future.

Let students know that there are ways to prevent online threats. For instance, remind students to contact a parent, teacher or administrator if they’re being bullied online. Leave the door open for students to communicate with you on what happens when they are online. This will help them grow into good digital citizens. It will help teachers, administrators and parents help them as well.


Text by Taylor Stewart


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