October 13, 2021

Digital Citizenship Week: Why Your Digital Footprint Matters

GoGuardian Team
Wally the racoon with their laptop and a cat

October’s Digital Citizenship Week is the ideal time to teach your students about their digital footprint and why it matters. Thanks to resources from Pear Deck Learning and Google’s Be Internet Awesome, it’s easier than ever to help students understand the importance of good digital citizenship!

What Is Digital Citizenship?

Digital citizenship is behaving responsibly and appropriately when utilizing technology—especially the internet. It involves ethics, digital literacy, online safety, speaking up against cyberbullying, protecting privacy, etiquette, respecting copyright law, and more. Good digital citizenship also helps students understand the importance of balancing technology use with other non-digital activities.

Good digital citizenship encourages students to empathize with one another and create long-lasting relationships online. The core idea behind good digital citizenship is to treat other people, places, and things with respect. 

Why Discussing Digital Citizenship With Students Is Important

Students might not understand what information is too sensitive to share on social media, how to properly vet sources, and the potential consequences of having online communications. Helping students understand digital citizenship equips them to navigate internet risks and succeed in the digital world. It challenges students to think critically about the information they consume online and reinforces important problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

One of the key concepts of digital citizenship that students need to understand is their digital footprint.

What Is a Digital Footprint?

A digital footprint accumulates the information that is left behind from a user’s online activity. Every person who uses the internet has a digital footprint. All of a person’s online posts, comments, cookies, social media photos, and more provide a perspective on a user’s life.

Because digital footprints can’t be erased, a student’s digital footprint has the potential to drastically affect their life. Hackers attempt to use people’s digital footprints to access their bank accounts or break into their other online accounts. A student’s digital footprint can also potentially leave them vulnerable to social engineering attacks, harassment, blackmail, or cyberbullying.

It’s also important for students to understand that their digital footprint can impact what people perceive about them and how they engage with them offline, now and in the future. Whether it’s with a friend, an admissions counselor, or a future employer — disrespectful behavior online can have real-life consequences. 

How to Help Students Be Internet Awesome

Understanding that good digital citizenship is essential for today’s kids, Pear Deck Learning has partnered with Google on Be Internet Awesome, a free digital citizenship curriculum to help kids learn to be safe, more confident explorers of the online world.

Pear Deck Learning educators worked with Google to adapt the Be Internet Awesome curriculum into 35 ready-to-teach Pear Deck Learning presentations designed to be used by educators in the classroom. 

The first set of lessons, Be Internet Smart, helps students understand the concept of a digital footprint and why it’s crucial to staying safe online. The seven Pear Deck Learning-powered lessons in the Be Internet Smart collection teach students how to recognize and steer clear of potentially embarrassing or even dangerous situations that could have lasting consequences.

A Pear Deck screen with an activity from Google's Be Internet Awesome template.


Digital Citizenship Week is the perfect opportunity to introduce the concept of digital footprints to your students. Help them get engaged in learning more about digital citizenship by downloading the full Be Internet Awesome Curriculum, along with vocabulary lists, certificates for recognition, and more! 

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