Digital Citizenship


 Digital Citizenship

Keith Hoke

Lamar University

         Digital Citizenship can be defined as being responsible, respectful, courteous, and safe while using anything digital. Including, but not limited to computers, phones, tablets, cameras, or ipods. This is important to instill in our students because everything they are doing now will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Someone who displays good citizenship, is respectful, responsible, mindful of others needs, courteous, and portrays safety for themselves and others. This correlates very closely to digital citizenship. So in my opinion the only difference in the two definitions is that one revolves around everything digital and the other does not. We should be acting the same and teaching our students to act the same when we are using technology as we would if we were face to face with someone. Unfortunately this is not always the case. A lot of times people “hide” behind the computer and say or do things they would not were they having face to face interaction.

At some point most of us utilize all nine elements Ribble (2015) shares. The ones that I use frequently and try to instill daily are etiquette, laws, literacy, communication, and safety. Etiquette must be taught in order for the students to know what is acceptable or not. This is followed by making the students aware of laws set forth that we all must abide by. If we do not teach this the students could be doing things inappropriate and not even know it. Students must be taught proper ways to communicate digitally. Like how to email properly and what to share or not share with others. Literacy is always included in my day to day activities. It is a way to keep students up to date with changes or updates. Most importantly for my situation is teaching safety. This is also an ongoing process in which all teachers must teach and model the safe and proper way to use digital tools.

The other four elements – access, commerce, rights/responsibility, and health/welfare are just as important and should be taught and modeled as well. Students must be made aware of their access rights and what they can or cannot do. Again, if we do not teach them what they have access to then they could be unknowingly doing something wrong and possibly get in trouble for it. The students need to be taught how dangerous it could be shopping/buying online. Identity theft is a very big problem and online shopping is a way that our identities can be stolen. Teaching safe practices about shopping online is beneficial for all students. They are probably not buying anything online while at school, but it is important that they know the effects of unsafe digital commerce. Making the students aware of their rights and responsibilities while at school and on their own time is another element that must be taught. The students must be responsible online just as they are in every other aspect of their lives. Placing responsibility on the students for their actions will teach them real world skills. Students also have to know their digital rights in order to be a good digital citizen. Modelling good ergonomics is also beneficial for students. They spend many hours each day at a desk on a computer or other digital tool. Teaching them proper ergonomics will help with their health and welfare.

Teaching and modeling digital citizenship is just as, if not more important, as teaching and modeling citizenship. We as teachers must do what we can to make sure our students are aware of and abiding by all the local, state, and national rules and regulations while they are in our care. Hopefully we can instill in our students good digital citizenship and teach them right from wrong so they will make good choices when they are not in our care. It would be nice if this modelling would transfer over to their lives outside of school. But to be honest a lot of parents have no idea what their children are doing on their devices. In most cases both parents work which gives their child ample alone time to do what they want. When they get home from work it is rush, rush, rush to get ready for the next day. The parents then use the device as babysitter. This is sad and I do not agree with it, but it happens. So, right or wrong, teaching digital literacy falls on teachers very heavily. It is also our duty to teach and model Ribbles nine elements to make sure our students are being the best digital citizens they can be.

Technology plays a big role in our lives, even if we don’t want it too. Technology is great when used properly. I think that connectivity and technology are amazing and honestly I don’t think we will ever live in a world where it is not necessary to be connected. Technology is how we get almost all of our assignments together and share with our students, I personally use the internet on every project we do to show my students real life examples of what they are doing. It allows us to connect with family, friends, co-workers, it is how we shop, pay bills, it is our encyclopedia for anything we might need to know about, it is the backbone of most businesses and schools. This leads to the creation of a digital footprint.

A digital footprint is everything we put on the web that everyone has access to forever. It is a digital description of ourselves. Once something is put on the internet is there for everyone to see, it can’t be undone. It is of utmost importance that we make our students aware that everything they display in the cyber world will follow them forever. This is so important for their futures. They often post things that they do not even think about, they are not thinking that their future college or job is going to look at their digital past. A simple google search will reveal a lot of information about everyone. Anything that is on the internet can be accessed by almost anyone if they have a few minutes to search.

In order to be a good digital citizen one should know what is legal or illegal when sharing information. Teachers should model and teach effective use of copyrighted materials to enhance the student’s learning process. Learning the copyright laws is a very daunting task. It can get very complicated discerning between copyright infringement, plagiarism, fair use, attribution, and creative commons. They somewhat overlap and are not simply black and white. There is a lot of grey area between the different licenses. It can get very confusing for both teacher and student.

It is the 21st century and we have to teach to our students with the attitude that we want the best for them. I want my students to take advantage of every opportunity they have to excel. In order for this to happen I have to make them aware of the copyright laws and what they can do legally so they don’t unknowingly do something that potentially get them into legal trouble. It is inherent that they will use others work at some point to enhance or back up their own thoughts and ideas. Knowing what is right or wrong when dealing with copyright is very important, but something that must also be addressed when learning about digital citizenship is cyberbullying.

A good digital citizen does not cyberbully. Cyberbullying is when a person is continually harassed by others digitally. The harassment can take place through cell phones, computers, or tablets on social media, texts, or calls. Brewer and Kerslake (2015) point out that cyberbullying can be worse than offline bullying because of the speed that the harmful information can be distributed. Once something is put on the web through social media the information is out there for everyone to see in seconds.  Hinduja and Patchin (2015) define cyberbullying as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices” (p. 11). The continued harassment leads students to feel worthless, ashamed, humiliated, and can lead to self-inflicted harm or suicide.

In order to bring awareness to cyber-bullying we must first of all realize and accept that it is a problem in our schools. There are many students who are bullied and no one ever knows about it or the teachers/administrators do not take it as serious as offline bullying. I think that this occurs because no one really knows what to do. It is easy to stop someone if they are bullying someone in class or in person in front of us. But cyber-bullying is not so blatant, often the bully is anonymous. As teachers we have to reach out to our students and encourage them to come forward to us. If they do not make us aware of a problem, we will never know it exists. This 21st century problem is one that we have to accept and learn how to curb the cyber-bullying. It is not going to go away on its own.

All the different aspects of being a good digital citizen can be overwhelming. There are a lot of criteria to bet met and displayed to prove one is a good digital citizen. I have chosen to use Windows Movie Maker to tie everything together in one coherent video that gives a digital overview of what I think digital citizenship is. I chose Movie Maker because it gives me the opportunity show all aspects of Digital Citizenship in an easy understandable way. It allows me to make points, share images, add music, and incorporate voice over. There are a lot of pieces that must come together to display good digital citizenship. We must exhibit understanding and utilize Ribbles nine elements. We have to model responsibility, respect, safety, and provide awareness to be a good digital citizen. We must make our students aware of everything that could harm them or put them in danger through any use of digital tools. It is my duty as a teacher to help my students be respectful, responsible, and do everything I can to help them become good digital citizens.


Bailey, J. (2017, June 21). Why Fair Use Isn’t Enough Sometimes… – Plagiarism Today. Retrieved from

Bharti, P. (2014, July 13). Why is Digital Citizenship Important? Even for Youngest Kids – EdTechReview™ (ETR). Retrieved from

Brewer, G., & Kerslake, J. (2015). Cyberbullying, self-esteem, empathy and

loneliness.Computersin Human Behavior, 48, 255-260. Brewer_Cyberbullying_Self-esteem_Empathy_Loneliness.pdf

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2015). Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyperbullying. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Kowalski, R. M., Limber, S., Limber, S. P., & Agatston, P. W. (2012). Cyberbullying: Bulling in the digital age. John Wiley & Sons

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know (3rd ed.). Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education



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