Digital Citizenship

Online life starts early

Most children in the United States today have had on-demand internet their entire lives, or know someone who has. In a life where cell phones and chats are part of daily life, talking about what it means to be connected is important. Reflect on the rules your family want to keep for technology use, and share your expectations for the children and for their online community. The best way to learn about the experiences your kids have online is to talk as a family about the online world. Here’s a great digital magazine from Pembroke Public Schools offering resources and thoughtful conversation starters about thinking before sharing, information privacy, and treating people online with the same respect we offer people we meet in person.

Digital Citizenship means being part of the world online. Any time we go online, we are becoming part of a community that reaches all over the globe. Being a digital citizen is freeing – you can find any information and talk to people who you may never meet in person. However, being a digital citizen also means taking care of ourselves, our privacy, and the people we interact with. Being a digital citizen means being safe to ourselves and others.

Digital Citizenship for Elementary Children

There are many resources online to help share digital citizenship lessons. Common Sense Media provides and excellent series of videos that provide an age-appropriate overview for elementary students on this Common Sense Media Youtube Page. We use ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards to guide what children should learn about technology at different ages. The general overview is simple, but for every grade the standards are more in depth. We want every student to be a(n)

  1. Empowered Learner
  2. Digital Citi
  3. Knowledge Constructor
  4. Innovative Designer
  5. Computational Thinker
  6. Creative Communicator
  7. Global Collaborator
International Society for Technology in Education Standards (ISTE)

K-2 Standards say that with help students can:

  • Identify positive and negative impacts technology can have on them.
  • Explain how information shared online leaves a digital footprint or “trail.”
  • Speak about the importance of respecting others’ belongings as they apply to digital content and information.
  • Locate an author and/or title for a digital resource and  understand that some digital content may be created by a company and not a single person.
  • Identify simple search terms and use search tools to find information in a digital resource or online library catalog.
  • Use digital resources to find and read fiction and non-fiction and navigate within the eBook.
  • Journal or use tech to share what they have learned about: recording and saving questions and make observations about situations involving new and every-day tools and use these tools as digital exit tickets, for reflective learning, or blogging/journaling.

Grades 3-5 Standards include the topics above, but make more room for specialization and recognizing our own limitations and learning from classmates or adults who have the information the student seeks. They include taking notes and using information in a meaningful way with new and well-established tools. These students will better understand the permanance of online interactions and content ownership. By grade 5 children can search in a broad or narrow way gobally and use graphic or infographic information effectively and responsibly. They can problem solve while coding and create electronic work like stories, flowcharts, or infographics. These students can take on assigned roles within a digital learning community and participate effectively with online friends and those in class.

Many webpages have information about life online that children and families can use to practice and start conversations about being safe and finding good information on the internet. Netsmartz internet videos are a good starting place and Google’s Be Internet Awesome is a fun way for children to learn and remember internet safety. Google offers an engaging practice game for children and parents called Be Internet Awesome. Practice good internet habits and practices. Badges like the ones to the right are available to show you completed a web safety course. Badges like the ones here can be a way to show what you know!

Being a responsible digital citizen means many different things. It means knowing how to interact socially and keep yourself safe, but it also means knowing how to navigate information and find responsible, reliable, authoritative sources. Below I’ve linked some books that talk about how we interact online, but take a moment to learn about Media Literacy and explore some Digital Citizenship topics. 

For younger children

Popcorn is a friendly chicken who has real life friends, but she finds a phone and starts continually replying to messages from onlien friends. Popcorn invites these online friends to her house and quickly realises that they are wolves that want to eat her. Nick Bland’s The Fabulous Friend is a Chicken Licken book for our time.

Upper Elementary Readers

Chase was a bully, and he led other bullies. Then one day he fell off the roof and lost his memory. He has a new chance to change his ways! But his school-mates remember the way he was. He wasn’t very nice online, and now that he’s online with his new friends, he sees how that feels. It’s never too late to change how we interact, and the world is full of people who will be supportive if we find the right circles. Read Restart by Gordon Korman. I didn’t know how much we needed this book until I read it myself.

Reading Up

For the 6th grade up, Goodbye Stranger follows a friend group through the last months of their first middle school years. Everyone has changed as the year started and phones play a big part in that change. Responsible texting is the topic, and coming of age in the digital landscape can bring some serious consequences. Rebecca Stead’s heroine is on the sidelines, but the consequences are everywhere in Goodbye Stranger.

Information on the Internet

If you have time, I highly recommend watching the Crash Course Navigating Digital Information courses or the Media Literacy courses. I’ve attached several below to give a general overview of the ideas presented, but there are so many more episodes. The John Green episodes are about half an hour each. Take your time and watch one a week or one a day, whatever works for you. Read laterally, or open a new web browser and learn about the information sources you find before trusting those sources. Look at the infographics and see if the numbers match the impression, and finally, think critically about the information we’re given and how we can use that info. Below are playlists and a Flocabulary song about internet safety.