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July 1, 2016

How to Teach Digital Citizenship to All Students

In a world filled with blogs, tweets, texts, social media posts, and memes, it’s more important than ever that students understand the norms of appropriate and responsible technology use. No matter which subject or grade you teach, you can help your students live, grow, and work in a technology-driven global community.

Not sure how to begin teaching the many components of 21st century, technology-based learning? The nine elements of digital citizenship are a great place to start.

Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship

Digital Access

Not everyone has the same access to technology. Some students don’t have a computer at home while others have personal tablets, cell phones, and laptops. It’s important that you provide all of your students with opportunities to use technology in the classroom and/or during free periods or after school. Review these resources from Edutopia for ideas for closing the digital divide in your classroom.

Digital Commerce 

Online shopping is a lifesaver, but it also comes with dangers. You can mitigate these dangers by introducing your students to the conflicts of buying and selling goods and services online. Share your personal negative experiences with online shopping, build activities that illustrate conflicts between online exchanges, and ask students to complete activities in which they evaluate online retailers’ credibility.

Digital Communication 

Thanks to technology, students are able to regularly communicate with their peers on a daily basis, no matter where they are located. Therefore, it’s important that students make responsible choices when communicating digitally. Check out this resource for tips to teach your students how to properly communicate online.

Digital Literacy 

Although students have many digital and media tools at their disposal, they often don’t know how to effectively navigate or evaluate them. Read this article for how to teach students to evaluate a website’s credibility. It’s also important to help students learn to synthesize online content from a variety of sources.

Digital Etiquette 

While students may recognize inappropriate behavior online when they encounter it, they may not know how to avoid these situations or how to remove themselves from negative communications online. Use these best practices to teach students how to prevent and avoid bad behavior online.

Digital Law 

It’s important for students to understand that there are rules when they are interacting online. Unethical use of technology includes theft and/or crime. Help students understand that stealing or causing harm to others’ work, identities, or property online is a crime. Watch these videos for examples on how to teach students this important lesson.

Digital Rights and Responsibilities 

All digital citizens have basic rights online, including privacy and freedom of speech. Use these lessons to teach students about the online “Bill of Rights.”

Digital Health and Wellness 

According to, teens spend 9 hours a day using some form of media. This extreme use of technology has repercussions. Eye safety, repetitive stress syndrome, and Internet addiction are all prevalent issues in the digital age. Use these resources to teach students how to protect themselves from the negative effects of being online.

Digital Security

In any society, even digital communities, there are people who disrupt. It’s important to teach students to engage in regular digital security practices (e.g., virus protection, backups of data, and not sharing sensitive information online) to protect their information from outside forces. This is a great resource for teaching cyber security.


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