What is Digital Citizenship?


Our first assignment for my Digital Citizenship class was of course to define it. That is harder than it sounds. Then we listened to the podcast on this page and wrote a response.


Here is my response but I reserve the right to come back and revisit these topics as I learn more.

Anyone who uses technology is a digital citizen. Digital Citizenship is how we participate in that digital world. There are nine elements to digital citizenship: access, commerce, communication, literacy, etiquette, law, rights & responsibilities, health & wellness, and security. (Ribble, 2011).

David Ryan Polgar compares it to being a citizen in a country. To be a good citizen you must participate appropriately.  He also says that how we act online changes the culture. “Social media is only as good as we are… so the onus is on us” (Polgar, 2016). He says we should participate with empathy, lawfully, and safely.

Once you start participating online, you have an online reputation, be it good or bad is up to the user.

I can’t keep up with all these new apps? How can I help my child be a good digital citizen?

Dig cit is ever-changing and it is hard to keep up. Parents say they aren’t digital literate, they don’t understand all these new programs the kids are using. Polgar’s answer is that social skills are universal. Using appropriate language to communicate with others is important on Facebook, Snapchat, or any other platform that is going to come up in the future. Teach them the basic skills and they can carry that with them to any platform.

In education we call this generalization. Children know how to communicate politely in face to face conversations, but sometimes they need instruction to generalize that habit to all areas of communication such as online communication.

How can we go from a bystander to an up-stander?

Bullying whether online or in person is a problem. The solution: Teach kids how to report. How to say something positive. Tell them this is not cool. Our community doesn’t condone this behavior.

I feel heartened because I’ve actually seen this happen on Google Hangouts. A student cussed. Another student said that they shouldn’t cuss. Another student reported the offending student. That online community (144 students in that hangout thread) stood up for themselves and said they wouldn’t stand for that kind of behavior. I couldn’t have been more proud.

My child is obsessed with “Likes.” How can we lessen the pressure?

This is a problem. There have been several instances where people will video a person getting beat (sometimes to death) instead of helping to stop the fight or getting help. They do this to get more “likes” for their social media.

So what’s the solution? One is to pressure the platforms to change the systems. “The business interest is going to start coinciding with the human interest.” (Polgar, 2016)

This is hard for kids because friendship and being liked is so very human and natural. They do not yet have the life experience to know that what is presented on social media is not always the real world. They see so many other kids posting pictures of friends hanging out, getting awards, winning at sports, and they think this is other people’s lives. They wonder why their lives are not perfect like the ones they see. I’m not sure I know the answer to this one yet, beyond just talk to your child, explain what they aren’t seeing, and don’t let them spend an unhealthy amount of time on social media. My son needs periodic vacations from games or videos when he gets overly wrapped up in them.

Overall the most important thing is to communicate with your child and start early.

I found a few excellent resources:


Ribble, M. (2011). Digital citizenship in schools, second edition. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/docs/excerpts/DIGCI2-excerpt.pdf

Polgar, D. R. (2016). Digital Parent Podcast: Digital Citizenship with David Ryan Polgar. Retrieved from http://digitalparentpodcast.com/digital-citizenship-david-ryan-polgar/


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