Teaching digital citizenship is relatively new to me. I never taught it at all in my first four years at my job because I hadn’t discovered Common Sense Media’s curriculum yet. I taught it for the first time in May 2013 and was happy to see students’ positive reaction to it. They related to it. The worksheets were simple and informative. Our discussions were lively. I witnessed the same reaction when I taught it again at the end of this past school year.
With B.Y.O.D. a reality at my school this fall, I plan on keeping digital citizenship at the forefront of my students’ minds by teaching it throughout the year, rather than at the end as I’ve done in the past. Our Module 3 readings further enforced my decision to do this. If students are to be successful in the 21st century, they need to be able to navigate the digital realm properly and responsibly and they need to learn how sooner rather than later. Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship materials are perfect for this. So far I’ve used it to teach about etiquette, communicating safely online, passwords, scams and spam, phishing, privacy, digital life, digital footprints, online communities, web fame, cyberbullying, self-expression, online identities, respecting creative work, and online research. (This covers six of the nine elements of digital citizenship.)
I can’t do this alone. Parents are just as instrumental in teaching digital citizenship as teachers, perhaps more so. The discussions I have with my students need to continue at home. Parents need to lead by example — don’t text during dinner, don’t text and drive, and so on — and be aware of their children’s digital habits, like vamping. It shouldn’t take the suicide of a 12-year-old girl to open our eyes about the significance and urgency of digital citizenship, either.
School districts can also do something. I’ve put together a three-page action plan and PowerPoint presentation for how and why districts should teach digital citizenship. For optimal viewing, click on the full-screen icon on the bottom right of the Scribd box.