| What is Digital Citizenship? | How do we find a solution? | | As an adult it is our responsibility to educate and support the youth of today and help create and enhance their digital citizenship based on the nine themes stated below. | Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship | Resources for teachers and parents:

What is Digital Citizenship?

In defining Digital Citizenship, one must first look at what makes a person a good citizen. This is best described by the actions a person takes toward the community they belong, or better know as the Responsibilities of Citizens.
In other words:
"Every person is expected to obey the laws of the community, state and country in which he or she lives. All Americans are expected to respect the rights of others." (Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids)

OK, so to be a citizen a person has rights and responsibilities to others; then to be a digital citizen, that would mean that those rights and responsibilities does not end in "real life", but in what is written online in the digital world. Then why do we need to be aware of what is it is to be a digital citizen? That is easy, not everyone realizes the right and wrong in their actions and unlike the "real world" the digital world is harder to contain as the video below shows.

Internal Compass

As an adult, we have been taught what is right and wrong, but the youth of today face even a larger issue and need a strong ethical compass to help them navigate in their new world. Many youth, and adults, have lost their way within the digital world and forget that in the real world, they would never have showed or said what they did in the digital world.

The video below is about one such thing where a private sharing of a picture spreads like a virus and affects everyone.

external image compass.jpgHow do we find a solution?

Easy, we communicate!
We build and support an ethical compass!

Mike Ribble's artical, Passport to Digital Citizenship a Journey Toward Appropriate Technology at School and Home, he states the how and why it is important to be a good digital citizen. This article would be a great resource to use in the school or home setting. This article helps explain the Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship as well as the steps to become aware of this new world we all belong to.

There are four steps or stages to help model appropriate digital citizenship for the adult:

Stage 1: Awareness
  • Use the time and resources to help the youth determine what is right and wrong within the digital world.

Stage 2: Guided Practice
  • Be aware of what is happening in the digital world today and incorporate the digital world into the real world safely.

Stage 3: Modeling and Demonstration
  • Plan time to be positive role models with the digital world by sharing and presenting using the digital resources available

Stage 4: Feedback and Analysis
  • Listen and see what is happening so that the youth of today can get a balanced response toward the digital world and not fear what the youth of today are using as their world

As an adult it is our responsibility to educate and support the youth of today and help create and enhance their digital citizenship based on the nine themes stated below. 882010_85628_1.gif

**Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship**

Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use.

1. Digital Access: full electronic participation in society.
Technology users need to be aware of and support electronic access for all to create a foundation for Digital Citizenship. Digital exclusion of any kind does not enhance the growth of users in an electronic society. All people should have fair access to technology no matter who they are. Places or organizations with limited connectivity need to be addressed as well. To become productive citizens, we need to be committed to equal digital access.

2. Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods.
Technology users need to understand that a large share of market economy is being done electronically. Legitimate and legal exchanges are occurring, but the buyer or seller need to be aware of the issues associated with it. The mainstream availability of Internet purchases of toys, clothing, cars, food, etc. has become commonplace to many users. At the same time, an equal amount of illegal/immoral goods and services are surfacing such as pornography and gambling. Users need to learn about how to be effective consumers in a new digital economy.

3. Digital Communication: electronic exchange of information.
One of the significant changes within the digital revolution is a person’s ability to communicate with other people. In the 19th century, forms of communication were limited. In the 21st century, communication options have exploded to offer a wide variety of choices (e.g., e-mail, cellular phones, instant messaging). The expanding digital communication options have changed everything because people are able to keep in constant communication with anyone else. Now everyone has the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with anyone from anywhere and anytime. Unfortunately, many users have not been taught how to make appropriate decisions when faced with so many different digital communication options.

4. Digital Literacy: process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology.
While schools have made great progress in the area of technology infusion, much remains to be done. A renewed focus must be made on what technologies must be taught as well as how it should be used. New technologies are finding their way into the work place that are not being used in schools (e.g., videoconferencing, online sharing spaces such as wikis). In addition, workers in many different occupations need immediate information (just-in-time information). This process requires sophisticated searching and processing skills (i.e., information literacy). Learners must be taught how to learn in a digital society. In other words, learners must be taught to learn anything, anytime, anywhere. Business, military, and medicine are excellent examples of how technology is being used differently in the 21st century. As new technologies emerge, learners need to learn how to use that technology quickly and appropriately. Digital Citizenship involves educating people in a new way— these individuals need a high degree of information literacy skills.

5. Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure.
Technology users often see this area as one of the most pressing problems when dealing with Digital Citizenship. We recognize inappropriate behavior when we see it, but before people use technology they do not learn digital etiquette (i.e., appropriate conduct). Many people feel uncomfortable talking to others about their digital etiquette. Often rules and regulations are created or the technology is simply banned to stop inappropriate use. It is not enough to create rules and policy, we must teach everyone to become responsible digital citizens in this new society.

6. Digital Law: electronic responsibility for actions and deeds
Digital law deals with the ethics of technology within a society. Unethical use manifests itself in form of theft and/or crime. Ethical use manifests itself in the form of abiding by the laws of society. Users need to understand that stealing or causing damage to other people’s work, identity, or property online is a crime. There are certain rules of society that users need to be aware in a ethical society. These laws apply to anyone who works or plays online. Hacking into others information, downloading illegal music, plagiarizing, creating destructive worms, viruses or creating Trojan Horses, sending spam, or stealing anyone’s identify or property is unethical.

7. Digital Rights & Responsibilities: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world.
Just as in the American Constitution where there is a Bill of Rights, there is a basic set of rights extended to every digital citizen. Digital citizens have the right to privacy, free speech, etc. Basic digital rights must be addressed, discussed, and understood in the digital world. With these rights also come responsibilities as well. Users must help define how the technology is to be used in an appropriate manner. In a digital society these two areas must work together for everyone to be productive.

8. Digital Health & Wellness: physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world.
Eye safety, repetitive stress syndrome, and sound ergonomic practices are issues that need to be addressed in a new technological world. Beyond the physical issues are those of the psychological issues that are becoming more prevalent such as Internet addiction. Users need to be taught that there inherent dangers of technology. Digital Citizenship includes a culture where technology users are taught how to protect themselves through education and training.

9. Digital Security (self-protection): electronic precautions to guarantee safety.
In any society, there are individuals who steal, deface, or disrupt other people. The same is true for the digital community. It is not enough to trust other members in the community for our own safety. In our own homes, we put locks on our doors and fire alarms in our houses to provide some level of protection. The same must be true for the digital security. We need to have virus protection, backups of data, and surge control of our equipment. As responsible citizens, we must protect our information from outside forces that might cause disruption or harm.

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Resources for teachers and parents:

Digital Citizenship Using Technology Appropriately

Common Sense Media has videos and lessons based on age level.
Raising a digital child article about the difficulty of being a parent today in the digital age and how to keep your child safe.
Anne Bubnic's List: Digital Citizenship on diigo of websites connected to teaching and supporting the education of digital citizens.
At SafeKids.com: Digital Citizenship Includes Rights and well as Responsibilities article.