How to Teach Digital Citizenship?

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Digital Citizenship is essentially “the quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities (Heick 2013).” For students, this means learning how to use the Internet, participate, share with each other and the public, listen, network, and limit content and time among other things when using technology. The graphic for this information can be found on Teach Thought, by clicking here. Teaching about all these things includes subjects such as copyright, cyber bullying, passwords, safety, digital footprint, communication, etiquette, plagiarism, stranger danger, and so much more (Murray, n.d). How then do we cover all of these things in the classroom? Since I plan to teach preschool and kindergarten, I too am interested to know how I can teach 3 to 6 year olds this topic in an age appropriate way, and also focusing on topics they will understand rather than topics such as plagiarism and copyright laws. Murray writes in her article that for the younger grades, it is important to teach first about safety basics such as not talking to strangers or giving personal information. Some other important things for younger children to learn is how to act around computers and how to treat equipment with respect (Murray, n.d). For information on how to teach older grade levels, this is the rest of her article. Personally I had no idea that digital citizenship was being taught at such a young age, but I understand why it is important now because of how young children are being exposed to the Internet. By breaking down the topics to teach by age appropriate level, it feels easier to approach the subject by not overwhelming the children all at once. Since I want to teach preschool, I will most likely start my year by explaining to my children how to treat the computers, then include a lesson on how to use the education games on the technology. It is also easy to tie in real life stranger danger with Internet stranger danger, and explain to children how to keep their identity protected. I also think the most important step is to be sure the parents are also involved in teaching their children about the technological world.

“1.2 Teachers understand what students know and are able to do, and use this
knowledge to meet the needs of all students.” This standard is applied when selecting what lessons of digital citizenship to teach to what grade levels. It shows that this is a lesson that can be spread through the whole life, and as a teacher I know what parts to teach that are appropriate to a given age.

“2.5 Teachers connect content to relevant life experiences and career opportunity.” This applies to the concept of digital citizenship because the whole world is becoming digital, and depending the content areas of digital citizenship it does extend into professional areas such as copyright and plagiarism. It is also relevant to real life because the younger ages will apply treating people with respect to the same concept as treating those online with respect.

“7.1 Teachers understand, uphold and follow professional ethics, policies and legal
codes of professional conduct.” This applies when teaching children about digital citizenship because not only am I as a teacher following ethical rules and laws about the internet but I am extending that knowledge to teach my students how to behave online.


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