Let’s face it, we live in a digital world and with that comes a responsibility to teach our kids how to navigate it. Teaching Digital Citizenship in the classroom is important because it helps students understand online safety and prevents cyberbullying. It also promotes digital literacy, digital responsibility, and digital health. This is why it is so critical to teach to kids.
I often cover Digital Citizenship in my lessons, I use this Character Education: Digital Citizenship resource that includes everything you need for teaching digital citizenship in your classroom. Looking for more ideas on how to teach Digital Citizenship in the classroom? Check out this blog post on Children’s books about Digital Citizenship.
Having trouble knowing where to start? Here are FREE Digital Citizenship posters that show the different areas of being a good digital citizen. I will cover each area below.
Appropriate viewing and sharing
Students must learn to only view appropriate websites/games/apps that they have permission to view. This is for their safety as some websites and apps can be not just inappropriate and scary, but also dangerous. Sometimes it can be hard to know what is appropriate or safe online, when in doubt students should always ask an adult BEFORE clicking on a link/download/website. Students should always check their security settings in apps and check to see if they are tracking their location and turn that off. This is something that should be done every time they download an app.
It can not be said enough, students should never share personal information or their location with anyone online. We teach kids stranger danger, the same goes for online social interactions. If they do not know the person in real life, then they should not talk to them online. I always reiterate the fact that they have no idea if who they are talking to is who they say they are. Students need to understand that there are online predators that try to trick kids into meeting up with them or send them information or personal photos. They should alert a parent right away if they encounter someone like this.
Cyberbullying is bullying with the use of digital technologies. It can take place on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms, and mobile phones. It is repeated behavior, aimed at scaring, angering and shaming the victim. (Examples: Spreading rumors/gossip online, posting embarrassing photos/videos of someone, sending threatening or mean messages, impersonating others with a fake account). Just like in real life, students are responsible for what they say and do. Online behavior is no different and kids need to be taught that they should not act differently behind a screen. It is so important that kids understand they need to report Cyberbullying to an adult right away. They could save a life, as many victims of Cyberbullying often suffer from depression and other serious mental health issues from the bullying. Also, 44 states have laws against Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking. It always gets a strong reaction when I say that Cyberbullying is against the law, and I hope that sticks with kids more than anything.
While surfing the internet, sometimes kids will come across something inappropriate. They should report inappropriate content they see to a trusted adult who can help them understand what they saw and prevent them from seeing it again. Especially if the inappropriate content is being sent to them from another student. While this may be an uncomfortable conversation, it’s better they have it with a trusted adult than with a fellow kid who may give wrong information. Additionally, it is so important to teach kids that they hold the power to say “NO” online. If someone asks them to send them inappropriate pictures, they can say no. If a stranger tries to start a side conversation in a gaming app, they can ignore the request/message.
Having integrity online means examining the source of information obtained online to determine credibility. Some good tips for this are to look at the URL for small changes of a webpage to appear as a different one, for example, instagran.com instead of instagram.com. Websites that have a lot of spelling or grammatical errors, an overwhelming amount of ads, and ending in .biz or .info are typically signs of a site that lacks credibility. Alternatively, sites that end in .edu or .gov are typically more credible.
I like to start talking about this area by explaining what Copyright is to students who likely do not know much about it. Copyright is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings. For example, if you want to use someone else’s photo or song in one of your own projects, you’ll need to make sure you have the legal right to do so. Students should know to give credit to those sources and cite it in their research papers. They should also respect copyright, and understand that if they did not create it, they can not claim it as their own. Respecting copyright means not just citing sources, but also not using graphics or products owned by others. For example, you can’t use Disney graphics to sell shirts on a website because Disney is trademarked.
This is a problem that often impacts even adults. Learning to avoid unknown websites, downloads, links, online ads, emails, texts, or messages is crucial. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Pay attention to the wording, the website’s URL. Websites that are from credible sources often end in .edu or .gov and non-credible or scam sites often have misspellings or poor grammar, they also often try to mock larger sites and spell it differently by changing one small detail. (For example- an email from what looks like your bank but asking for your password and social security number, a bank would never ask for that in an email and would already have it). If you are not sure about the legitimacy of something, ask an adult BEFORE you click on it, and definitely before you download anything which could contain a computer virus.
Clickbait refers to a headline that’s written to gain someone’s interest and get them to click, it is often misleading or exaggerated. It relies on leaving out key information to get people to its website (example- “Click here for free money”). This is for a few different reasons, often it is because the website makes money every time you visit it through advertising. Another reason could be for nefarious reasons like a computer virus or an attempt to steal your identity/information.
Technology is such an ingrained part of our life, but we also need to know when to turn it off and do something else. Connect with people in real life, go outside, and just be fully present in the moment. This is part of living a positive and healthy life. Know when to disconnect tech and connect with people in-person.
Recognizing the addictive features on technology is an important part of teaching digital citizenship in the classroom. There are many addictive parts of gaming and social media because they can trigger the release of dopamine (pleasure hormone). Games do this by rewarding you and making it competitive. Social media rewards you with social acceptance and popularity. These features leave the user wanting to check their phone to see if they got that “like” on Facebook or won that game. That is why you often lose track of time when using the internet, phone, or gaming device.
Another part of teaching digital citizenship in the classroom is to teach kids that they can not buy anything online without permission. They should always ask before they click on a link that says “buy” or “purchase now”. Even if the item, app, or game is free. Check with a parent before they download it. It could be something that is not safe or trying to collect information. On that same note, they should learn not click on online advertisements. Many kids have gotten their parents into trouble by making in-app purchases without permission because the app had credit card information saved to it.
Students typically pick very easy-to-guess passwords. They need to understand that when choosing a password, it should be something that you can remember but also not easy for others to guess. (For example- not 12345) Always keep passwords private. Do not share your password even with friends, as sometimes friends may not always be your friend. Frequently change your passwords, especially if you believe someone has accessed your account without permission.
While this section is up to parents for young children, it is important to cover because upper elementary can certainly check their own privacy settings. They should always review privacy settings on apps and social media. Make sure they are not sharing information that they are not allowed to share. Many apps automatically collect data from users unless they are specifically told not to in the privacy settings.
Respect and Empathy
Messages sent through email, posted online, or in text messages can often be misinterpreted. It’s a good idea to re-read messages before pressing send, and think about how the other person will feel when they read it. Be kind and respectful. The golden rule still applies when online, treat others how you want to be treated. If you wouldn’t do it in real life, don’t do it online.
It’s easy to forget our manners when we hear our phone “ding” alerting us to a new message. It’s hard to ignore and it is built that way. It takes self-control to wait to check the phone until an appropriate time. Although more and more it is becoming more socially acceptable to have your phone out and to use it in public places, it is still considered rude to have your phone on or out in certain places. For example: during class, while at the movies, eating a meal with others, or checking it in the middle of a conversation. Here is a quick guide to do’s and don’ts of digital etiquette:
Be a good sport.
Ask permission before posting pics of yourself and others.
Check grammar and spelling.
Silence device at social functions.
Trolling (antagonizing others by posting inflammatory or offensive comments/ disruptive content)
Flaming (posting or sending offensive messages with the intent to start an argument)
Using ALL CAPS
Checking phone during conversations.
Your digital footprint is the trail of data you create while using the Internet. It includes the websites you visit, emails you send, and information you submit to online services. For example, posting on social media, subscribing to a newsletter, leaving an online review, shopping online, or any website or ad you click on. I always ask students, how do you want your future college or job to view you from your online activity? What about your family and friends? Do you want to have a positive footprint or negative one? It is very common for job and college recruiters to check social media profiles.
Students need to be taught to avoid sharing personal information, photos, and videos online or through messaging. Explain that images posted online will be permanently on the internet, even if the app claims it removes the photo after 24hrs (snapchat for example). A person can easily take a screenshot and the app itself keeps records of posts. They also need to understand that they need permission from others if they want to post or send a photo/video of someone else.
BOOKS & VIDEOS ABOUT DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP
Read-alouds are a wonderful way to incorporate teaching digital citizenship in the classroom. Check out a couple of my favorites below that cover cyberbullying, online safety, and more. Check out this blog post with recommendations and reviews about Children’s books about Digital Citizenship. Here are a few highlights of my favorites:
*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I get a small commission that costs you nothing and helps me continue to provide this content.
Best Book for Digital Literacy
This is the fourth book in the series of Mrs. Skorupski, the librarian, and library skills. In this book, Mrs. Skorupski and the classroom teacher collaborate to teach the fourth graders at Liberty Elementary School how to assess and cite all sources. The students learn to examine resources found on the internet for accuracy, how easy they are to use, and the level of informativeness.
Best Book for Cyberbullying
Lyla and Jamie become great friends on the first day of sixth grade. Lyla makes the cheerleading team, and the “popular girls” invite her to join them. Lyla realizes that Jamie is left behind. She sees them teasing Jamie and other classmates on Facebook, and she knows that being a part of their friend group isn’t for her. The popular girls don’t stop easily though and are now out for revenge.
Best Book for Online Shopping, Digital Identity, and Digital Safety.
This story is about a little chick who sneaks into the farmer’s house and uses the farmer’s computer. She sneaks back into the house multiple times and buys many items online for her farm friends ranging from teapots to a vacation.
Her online shopping is getting out of control. She even buys another chick friend and adds personal information about herself for the “friend” to see. She agrees to meet the new friend in the woods without telling her parents. The little chick is shocked to find out that her new friend is actually not a chick at all!
Best Book for Digital Health/Addictive Features/Screen Time
Jasper is a little boy who LOVES video games. If he isn’t playing video games, he is thinking about them. Video games begin to take over his life. Responsibilities like homework and chores, and even fun things like play, are overlooked. Jasper’s mom takes his game controller and helps Jasper get involved in his life again. She sets firm boundaries for him along the way.
Video about Digital Citizenship
Protect Yourself Rules – Cyber Bullying
Need more ideas for Teaching Digital Citizenship in the Classroom?
Pair your favorite children’s books about digital citizenship with these activities to make the perfect classroom lessons. I use this Character Education: Digital Citizenship resource that includes everything you need to teach kids to be good digital citizens. This is a must-have for teaching Digital Citizenship in the classroom.
To get a small preview of the Digital Citizenship resource, check out this Digital Citizenship FREEBIE (pictured below) that covers the different Digital Citizenship areas such as Digital Integrity, Digital Literacy, Digital Safety, and more.
Follow along and don’t miss a thing! Let’s connect: