Technology is becoming a way of life among students; therefore, training them to be good digital citizens is crucial. Digital Citizenship Week, celebrated annually the third week of October, focuses on empowering learners to be responsible and digitally aware of what they come across online, understand the benefits and dangers of sharing information, and balance the time spent online with other activities.

How to Teach Digital Citizenship

It is becoming challenging for teachers to teach digital citizenship. Whether you are in person or online, teachers must always act as role models for their students. 

According to the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE), there are nine essential elements of digital citizenship that educators should demonstrate:

  1. Digital access refers to the student’s ability to take part in the society’s digital landscape. This includes learning digital skills, using specialized tools, and connecting with others online.

  2. Digital commerce is the skills of buying and selling goods and services online. Typically, students will not be online to sell or shop for products, but they should be aware of identifying and analyzing targeted advertising.

  3. Digital literacy is the basic knowledge of operating a computer, as well as using search engines to research information and evaluate digital resources.

  4. Digital communication is how one interacts with another party or parties online, such as messaging, emailing, playing games, video chatting, or posting on social media.

  5. Digital etiquette requires users to treat others online with respect. The most relevant subject on digital etiquette for young learners is learning how to stop cyberbullying.

  6. Digital rights and responsibilities are the privileges and duties of internet users, like privacy or freedom of speech.

  7. Digital health and wellness is learning how to maintain a safe and healthy balance of internet usage. For students, this may involve setting screen-time boundaries or practicing time management.

  8. Digital law is abiding by an organization’s guidelines for using or sharing digital property when using the internet. The organization, in this case, refers to your school or community.

  9. Digital safety and security refer to the measures of encouraging internet safety, such as avoiding scammers, cyberbullies, cybercriminals, and malware.

Tips for Digital Citizenship Week

Address Disadvantaged Learners

Students with special needs and those from low-socioeconomic status (SES) may lack the necessary digital resources. Ensure that your planning addresses these differences and provides equal in-class opportunities for technology access.

Factor Take-Home Technology

In schools where there is a gap in digital equity, consider providing children from low-SES families with tech devices to use at home. Tools such as Chromebooks are less expensive and can help many students access technology away from the classroom.

Make Students Aware of Targeted Online Advertising

Online advertisers cleverly market to children so they can  prompt their parents. Train your students to identify the differences between a website with eligible information versus one selling products.

Train Children to Be Critics

Instill general knowledge so that students can distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate websites. Teach them the questions to ask themselves when verifying the authenticity of a site.

Introduce Your Students to Social Media at an Early Age

The ability to navigate and use social media safely is one of the best examples of digital literacy. According to experts, It is best to explain to children what social media is and establish rules and best practices of social media activities early.

Teach Children to Control What They Share Online

When you teach children about controlling the information they share online, you are promoting digital literacy. Train them about what, who, and which sites to avoid and how their digital footprint produces consequences that affect their futures.

Emphasize Student Safety When Communicating Online

Social media, like Facebook and Instagram, creates an open space in which students are likely to interact with strangers. Teach them how to establish boundaries with strangers and how to be careful. Also, train them on what to do if they feel uncomfortable.

Remind Students That There Is Always a Person Behind Every Screen

The thrill of being online can quickly cause students to forget that other users are online. Don’t let them forget how online avatars belong to other people whenever they post anything online or get involved in a multiplayer game. Digital etiquette requires students to treat all online users with respect as one would in an in-person environment.

Define When It Is or Is Not Right to Use Technology

Digital media has many advantages, especially when technology tools are involved. Unfortunately, it is not intended for all-around use. Define the most appropriate times to use some devices by giving students situation-based examples. Train them to be responsible and to recognize when they should put away their technology.

Dedicate a Lesson to Teaching Online Privacy

Internet access is easy in modern elementary schools, and students begin online surfing at an early age. While in the classroom, teachers can responsibly teach students the significance of online privacy.

Teach Students About Internet Addiction

It might not be categorized as a disorder, but spending too much time on the internet comes with adverse effects. Teachers must ensure students understand the dangers of internet addiction by explaining the need for moderation when using digital media. Use tracking tools, such as iPhone’s Screen Time feature, to make it easier.

Make Students Aware of the Physical Effects of Excessive Screen Time

In addition to learning about internet addiction, students must realize what they are subjecting themselves to when they spend too much time on their screens. Advise them accordingly, and teach them the consequences, including headaches, eyestrain, low-self esteem, stress, and depression.

Encourage Students to Report Cyberbullying

In most cases, students may fail to report cyberbullying cases because they do not know who to tell or are afraid of being punished. Share the benefits of reporting to teachers or parents. Take it upon yourself to look for warning signs to identify possible bullies and victims.

Avail Interactive Internet Security Programs

Even as you train your students about internet safety, present relevant information and resources that help them learn responsible online habits. Provide guides for internet safety, and train them on how to secure their accounts. These steps range from generating strong passwords to logging out from their accounts when using public computers.

Be a Good (Digital) Citizen

In today’s age of digital learning, it is the collective responsibility of educators and parents to understand the value of teaching digital citizenship at all grade levels. By using these tips and technology tools, you can easily prepare for Digital Citizenship Week.