Digital Citizenship

Triggering Event Question: As a 3rd grade teacher, how can I demonstrate to my students an understanding of local and global societal issues and responsibilities that exhibit legal and ethical behavior in my professional practice while teaching in an evolving digital culture?

Digital Citizenship is a concept in which teachers, parents, and children are understanding and showing how to use technology appropriately. Since technology is becoming more and more widespread and its use is increasing very quickly, there are often times when children begin using a piece of technology or an app or program online that they know very little about, simply because it is “the thing.” Digital Citizenship encompasses digital wellness and ethics ideas that basically talk about the responsible way to act while online, as well as how we should teach citizenship to the next generation. The website offers a list of nine elements/themes that define norms of appropriate and responsible behavior in regards to technology use. The nine elements are as follows:

-Digital Access: Understand that not everyone has the same opportunities when it comes to technology, and we need to remember this to not exclude individuals as our technology use grows.

-Digital Commerce: Understand that most of buying and selling of goods happens electronically.

-Digital Communication: People are able to be constantly connected to others, but we need to show how to handle the different methods of communication and decide what is the best method to use for a specific topic.

-Digital Literacy: Learners must be taught to learn anything, anytime, anywhere. We need to be able to educate students in a new way, and students need information literacy skills to do so.

-Digital Etiquette: Having rules and consequences for poor behavior with technology.

-Digital Law: Understanding that damaging online work of another person is still a crime. So is downloading music and plagiarizing, which can be common topics for students.

-Digital Rights and Responsibilities: It’s like the Bill of Rights for the technology world.

-Digital Health and Wellness: Includes teaching technology users how to protect themselves from health issues stemming from technology (i.e. ergonomics and eye problems).

-Digital Security: Protect your information!

REPs (Respect, Educate and Protect) is a method of teaching the elements/themes of digital citizenship and should begin early—in Kindergarten! This covers respecting yourself and others through etiquette, access, and the law; educating yourself and connecting with others with literacy and communication skills; and protecting yourself and others with safety and knowing your rights. YouTube user Amy Loder has created a simple and short video to show students five important things to remember about being a good digital citizen. That video can be viewed here: Digital Citizenship.

Common Sense Media, a resource shared by classmate Jenessa, has a wealth of free information pertaining to Digital Citizenship in the classroom. The website offers a Scope and Sequence for each age group and breaks down the nine elements of digital citizenship to age-appropriate resources for students to understand and build on. Topics on the site include: self-image and identity, relationships and communication, digital footprint and reputation, cyberbullying and digital drama, information literacy, internet safety, privacy and security, and creative credit and copyright. Since I teach 3rd grade, I narrowed down the search to grades 3-5 and found resources for teaching lessons ranging from teaching basic digital responsibilities, protecting your information, understanding cyberbullying and how to react to it, showing respect for the work you use, and how to do a proper search of information. Since my students are about to embark on a research project about the Ring of Fire and volcanoes, I found the lessons on searching for information particularly helpful. Therefore, I decided to sign my class up for the Digital Passport program, which is an interactive learning tool that teaches and tests basics of online safety etiquette and citizenship. The program is designed for grades 3-5 and has modules for students to work through that are aligned to ISTE standards as well as Common Core Standards. The modules have online games and videos that teach skills pertaining to digital citizenship, and the teacher’s guide and student workbook offers offline learning activities to help deepen knowledge and understanding of digital concepts. The five modules pertain to Digital Communication, Privacy, Online Searches, Copyright, and Cyberbullying and the safe, online program allows me to view and manage their data and work.

Once my students have a grasp of what it means to be a digital citizen, ISTE has shared not only a simple info-graphic for teachers to use in the classroom, but has also created a brief list of suggested activities that I could use in the classroom to model the nine elements and the importance of being a good citizen digitally. To show fair use and copyright practices and how to do a proper search for online information, I could create a digital presentation for my students and then help them do a practice research activity for their upcoming science research. It is important to help my students think critically about the work that is done digitally, and showing and modeling the importance is extremely important in an ever-growing digital age.


Digital Citizenship: Using Technology Appropriately. (2016). “Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship.”

Loder, A. (2013, Sept. 12). Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from:

Krueger, N. (2014). “3 ways to weave digital citizenship into your curriculum.” Retrieved from:



This entry was posted in 2 Instruction, 5 Learning Environment, 7 Families and Community, 8 Professional Practice and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Digital Citizenship

  1. jenessaliang says:

    Great post! I’m so glad you were able to use the Digital Passport program and integrate it into your class! I can see how it will benefit the students as they start their research projects, especially when looking for sources online.


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