Nicole Krueger

How can we teach kids to use technology responsibly when the technology is changing faster than we can keep up? How can we help students — and teachers — understand that good digital citizenship also involves using digital tools to do good things in the world?

Grappling with these questions is just the beginning of the digital citizenship conversation. Most educators recognize the need for it, but many struggle with the best way to teach it.

In classrooms where digital citizenship is taught effectively, teachers have two things in common: They model ethical technology use for their students on a daily basis, and they naturally incorporate conversations about it whenever technology is part of their lesson plan. In other words, they weave digital citizenship seamlessly throughout their curriculum.

Here are some resources to help:

1. Infographic: I'm a digital citizen!

Schools have long woven citizenship lessons into their curricula, but now that much of our social interaction happens online, educators need to understand how to teach students about responsible digital citizenship as well. #DigCitCommit is a movement created by a coalition of organizations committed to giving all educators the tools to prepare students to stay safe, solve problems and become a force for good. DigCitCommit wants to change the conversation around digital citizenship to focus on the do's not the don'ts.

Keep the learning going during COVID-19! Explore the resources.

2. Don’t teach digital citizenship — embed it!

Educators know that kids do best when they can learn something authentically, by figuring out their own answers to real-world problems that are relevant to their lives. As educator Heather Marrs writes, digital citizenship is a key skill for living and working in a connected world. And if students don't learn this important skill set in an authentic way, it will be just another abstract idea that becomes real only when they run into problems down the road. 

3. Digital citizenship IRL

K-pop band BTS and their loyal international fandom known as ARMY may seem a world away from your classroom or anything as serious as digital citizenship, but there are lessons to be learned from the way BTS fans behave and react that will be applicable to any fandom or community that your students — or you — may be a part of.

4. Help students take ownership of their digital lives

All students need digital citizenship skills to participate fully in their communities and make smart choices online and in life. Empower students to think critically, behave safely and participate responsibly in a digital world with Common Sense Media’s K-12 curriculum.

5. Digital Citizenship in Action

This ISTE U course will guide you in exploring various sets of learning standards, identifying frameworks for digcit education, integrating digcit across content areas, and even sharing how students can connect online to participate in social justice and sustainability projects.

6. 6 tips and 1 activity to help students interact respectfully online

Educator and author Kristen Mattson, Ed.D., has a bone to pick with a lot of the digital citizenship curricula. Too much of it, she says, focuses on what not to do, and it rarely addresses the opportunities and responsibilities of the digital world.

Digital Citizenship - ISTE U edtech PD

7. What prevention science tells us about cyberbullying

It's easy to focus on the screens. Screens follow some rules, they can be tucked away, they can be banned. But if your solution to personal tech issues rests only on the screen, you're missing the larger point. If programs and training on digital citizenship do not focus on risk factors, they will never fully address the problems that stem from technology use.

8. A new twist on cyberbullying

How do we teach digital citizenship to older students, who don’t respond well to lecturing and finger pointing? Instructional technology coordinator Cynde Reneau shares her strategies for guiding students to draw their own conclusions about cyberbullying.

9. Teach digital citizenship all year, every year

While many schools address digital citizenship through the occasional school assembly or one-off lesson plan, administrators at Rowan-Salisbury School District knew they needed to go bigger. They paid 25 teachers from around the district to develop a comprehensive K-12 digital citizenship curriculum.

Librarians, help your school community thrive in the digital age with this book, Leading from the Library.

This is an updated version of a post that was first published on Dec. 24, 2014.

Nicole Krueger is a freelance writer and journalist with a passion for finding out what makes learners tick.