Digital citizenship is a way to teach students how to use technology responsibly and respectfully—and it’s an important aspect of developing good character in our students. Because using digital media is a part of our everyday lives, we teach them how to manage their school Gmail accounts and Google Apps for Education for their learning. We also talk with them about how to manage themselves online, especially when using social media.
As educators, we think a lot about social media and how to use it effectively and responsibly. We work with our students to make sure they know how important it is for them, too. The guidelines our school uses for our own posts are designed to create a positive atmosphere online. We teach appropriate technology use to develop good digital citizens.
Here’s what we tell our students about their own digital citizenship:
- Publishing your work or ideas online is public; there is no such thing as online privacy.
- Always keep in mind that information you produce is a reflection on yourself—it becomes part of your own personal “brand” and never goes away.
- Being a good citizen is the same in person as it is online, but it gets more challenging when not face to face.
When posting online, whether for a school assignment or activity or for personal use, we urge students to:
- Be mindful of what you say
You are responsible for anything that is posted in your name. Always use appropriate language, and remember that how you say something is as important as what you say. Be clear in the message you are trying to convey without using exaggeration, provocation, and sarcasm.
- Be respectful to others
Always make sure what you write is fair and accurate. Be careful not to include information that is hearsay.
- Be informative
Write about and present what you know. Make sure you get your facts straight and ask for advice if you are not sure
- Be interesting
Make it fun so that you will encourage your readers and listeners to come back for more. Write posts that promote various activities, gain feedback, start a conversation about something, or give recognition to a group or individual..
- Be appropriate
Ask yourself, would I be embarrassed if my parent, grandparent, favorite teacher, or a future employer read what I’m about to post? If so, think about rewording your post or think twice about posting it at all.
Teaching digital literacy to students is important for them to develop confidence and competency to communicate effectively in our digital world. At each grade level, students at Sanford School are exposed to a variety of digital resources to use as tools to increase their learning. At every step of the way, we make sure that students have the guidance they need to be as safe and successful online. We provide students with the skills to prepare them for lifelong learning in a digital world.
Sandy Sutty, MA, is the Upper School Librarian and Technology Integration Coordinator at Sanford School in Hockessin, Delaware.