As a computer paraeducator at an elementary school, I introduce children to digital citizenship daily. Digital citizenship is a term that refers to the appropriate and responsible behavior that is acceptable in the world of technology. “Netiquette”, cyberbullying, copyright laws, plagiarism laws, safety and privacy are all aspects of digital citizenship. In our curriculum at the elementary school, we use an interactive website that was launched by the FBI organization. The website is called FBI Safe Online Surfing. The webiste provides students with information about important facets of digital citizenship such as reporting inappropriate material online, online predators, hackers, and how to create secure passwords. The website uses a video game style that tests the students on their knowledge of all things digital citizenship.
In my experience, students were made aware of cyberbullying and hacking through their daily interactions with social media. However, I was surprised by how many students however did not know that some sources online were not reliable or even fraudulent. Through the FBI Safe Online Surfing website, students were able to learn how to decipher between reliable sources and unreliable sources. The students also did not seem to be aware of how big of a threat online predators are for children in their age groups. Nearly all of the students that I interacted with had social media accounts such as facebook, twitter, and instagram; however, very few of them knew that their accounts were public and anything that they posted could be seen by anyone around the world. Students also didn’t realize that employers and important people will visit their social media sites in an effort to determine their responsibility and character. Students were made aware of this “digital footprint” through FBI website.
Another site that we used in computer class for teaching digital citizenship grades 3-6 was Digital Passport. Digital passport is an interactive website that teaches students how to use proper citations for giving credit to online sources, how to search online effectively, what is appropriate to post online and what is not, and how dangerous it is to be texting while moving. All of these things are important in digital citizenship. The website contains videos that expand on concepts like cyber-bullying (online harassment) and netiquette (proper behavior online). The students favorite feature of the website was the learning games that helped them practice searching efficiently, determine when it’s appropriate to be on the phone, how to report inappropriate behavior and other digital citizenship skills.
It is imperative that students learn digital citizenship for many reasons. Digital citizenship helps students protect themselves online, avoid plagiarism online, avoid copyright infringement online, avoid cyber-bullying, and use proper netiquette.