Let’s dive into what digital citizenship is and why it’s so important to teach in the classroom!
Basically, digital citizenship is about teaching young people how to act responsibly online. In today’s digital age, students have a heap of information at their fingertips, and with all this exposure, it’s important they know the basics about digital etiquette and online safety!
Learning how to be a good digital citizen comes hand-in-hand with learning how to be a considerate person; nurturing a sense of empathy towards others, and developing healthy relationships. Digital citizenship will also give students a headstart in their future careers as more and more jobs will value digital skills in the coming years.
There’s a lot to pack into this topic of digital citizenship for kids — and we know you teachers are busy — so let’s break things down into four key focus areas that will help guide students as they grow into good digital citizens: Respect, Digital Footprint, Protection, and Copyright.
When teaching students about the basics of being a good digital citizen, try starting with the most fundamental golden rule: treat people how you’d like to be treated – in real life and your digital lives!
We all know how easy it is to misinterpret messages we receive online. These situations are even harder for kids as online interaction takes away the social cues they’re often still learning. Without tone and body language, it’s easy for words to get lost in translation. Put this into practice by playing a fun game with your students where you include some examples of messages that could be misinterpreted to demonstrate the difference between communicating face-to-face and digital communication. This will help to bring home the point that online messaging can so easily get lost in translation!
This is also a good time to address cyberbullying. Teaching kids how to be good digital citizens is a key way to prevent cyber-bullying. It’s always good to set students up with responses and always remind them that if they’re being bullied online, they should tell you, their parents, or any trusted adult! Hold a brainstorming session with your class and see if they have some ideas on how to best respond to harassment online.
It’s also important to discuss the very real impact cyber-bullying has on people’s well-being – kids can often feel detached from their online personas and not understand the social and emotional impact of their actions.
In relation to respect, students also need to be reminded anything posted online is going to stick around. The common phrase “think before you speak” is now also “think before you post.”
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