Digital citizenship and citizenship sometimes are interpreted as being defined separately. As technology use increased, there was an apparent need to define how people should appropriately act when using technology along with a presence online. However, it is now believed that citizenship and digital citizenship should not be separated because citizenship should be the same, regardless of the use of technology (Ribble, 2015). Citizenship is about showing character through positive behaviors and actions. We should be focusing on citizenship as a whole, not separate this concept from digital citizenship. It is important for people to understand that how we should appropriately behave in person should be identical to online, they are one in the same.
I believe all nine elements are important in establishing appropriate digital citizenship for students. However, with teaching middle school students some of the most crucial elements are encouraging students to treat others courteously and not to steal digital property. These two major issues are something that occurs often in the classroom. The first issue of treating others with respect in regards to online behavior is very challenging to conquer. When I have conversations with students, often they view online comments or posts as not communicating with real human beings, and they believe their behavior and reflect that. They think that if they don’t physically see or meet the person they don’t exist, so they address an issue or problem in a much harsher situation than they would in person. This lends itself to inappropriate or mean comments, which students would otherwise not participate without the online communication. The second issue of teaching students to not steal information online from others is relevant. Students often feel as though they can copy and paste not only website information, but other classmate’s information. Some students differentiate online resources as being different than physical books. As a district, we can improve these two challenges continue to have conversations and educate students on the importance of citizenship. Not just focusing on what not to do online, but teaching and modeling positive interactions online.
Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools - Third edition. Eugene: International Society for Technology in Education.