Digital Citizenship

The students in our classrooms today are digital natives, growing up and instinctively understanding digital technology (NetRef, 2016). Teachers are not only challenged with teaching these students how to use technology effectively, but also teach them the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior to become good digital citizens. It is our job to guide students using the technologies in a way that preserves their growth and ability to make mistakes without hurting themselves in the long run. Teaching students to be aware and courteous of others online as well as having a critical eye/ear for what they are reading/viewing/hearing can be as difficult as any content subject.

fingerprintI recently read an article that discusses how to foster digital citizenship and favored the description of digital fingerprints (Lynch, 2016), as opposed to a digital footprint, being left behind when online. According to Lynch, it is easy to leave traces of where you have been without even realizing it. A good rule of thumb to teach is that they shouldn’t post anything that they wouldn’t say to a stranger. When you are online you are shaping your reputation and sometimes it is not you who is doing the shaping.

Having a voice is important to many, especially to students. There are many places online where students can have their voice heard, such as on social media sites. The problem with that is we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people and can sometimes think as one. A way that this can happen in a negatively is bullying or online shaming. It can be a huge problem for students (and adults), but it can also quickly get out of control. Here is an example of what happened when an adult used Twitter as a way to have a voice and in turn it destroyed her career: 

It is important to us to teach the problems of online use and promote good digital citizenship. It is also important to remember to model it ourselves.

How do you promote digital citizenship in your classroom?


Lynch, Matthew. (2016, November 7). Fostering Responsible Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from

NetRef. (2016, April 4). White Paper – Digital Natives: Citizens of a Changing World. Retrieved from

Ronson, J. (2015, June). When Online Shaming Goes Too Far [Video file]. Retrieved from


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