Digital Citizenship Safety – Teachers are in the Driver's Seat
The concept of digital citizenship was developed to help schools, teachers and parents guide children toward using technology safely and responsibly. Our world is built upon, and dependent upon, on technology, so students who understand, adapt and learn to use technology early on have a far better chance for social and developmental success than those who don’t.
Because digital citizenship is a complex issue that cannot be summed up in a few lessons, teachers need to think in terms of cultural training rather than skill-building. Broadly speaking, digital citizenship is broken down into nine categories:
- Digital access
- Digital commerce
- Digital communication
- Digital literacy
- Digital etiquette
- Digital law
- Digital rights and responsibilities
- Digital health and wellness
- Digital security
For the purposes of teacher and student safety, clearly the areas of law, security, health and wellness, and rights and responsibilities matter. However, they are thoroughly integrated with access, communication, etiquette and literacy. So, when teachers are educating students on how to use technology, they also need to be cognizant of how it can be used and what areas to protect students from. Further, technology is simply a tool through which people can manifest their own interests faster and easier. So, according to Common Sense Media, students also need to be taught and regularly reminded how to behave with technology, particular communication tools.
Matching Education Delivery with Maturity
Digital citizenship incorporates some very heavy concepts involving teaching students how to live in a virtual and technology-enhanced world. Obviously, lower-grade elementary children are not going to understand or make as serious mistakes with the Internet, for example, as eighth-graders or high school students. Nonetheless, all levels require regular reinforcement of how people should behave with technology, the risks involved and society’s expectations for proper use. These lessons get more technical and details as they are delivered to higher and higher grade levels. So it is important for teachers to tailor their material to meet reinforcement goals while still making sure the digital citizenship material is understandable.
Helping Children Become good Digital Citizens
Digital safety also means encouraging students to be good citizens towards each other. It’s no surprise that the Internet or similar tools can be used inappropriately due to how easy it is to be anonymous online. However, schools and teachers play a critical role in heading off this kind of behavior before it occurs through proactive education, reinforcement and discipline if needed. According to the MIT Press, repetitive teaching of the digital citizenship principles allows teachers to be instrumental in teaching students how to be better technology users and citizens in the society they grow up in.
A Standardized Approach to Digital Citizenship
The nine principles follow a standardized approach to technology use and proper behavior with modern tools, but it is still up to schools to implement the actual education and make it sink in to students of all ages. In this regard, teachers not only can protect students from technology risks, they can also guide their students to be better, more productive members of a technological society.