maker | designer | educator

Digital Citizenship

by Ashley Flinn & Ai Mackay

What are digital citizenship skills?
Who is responsible for educating kids about digital citizenship?

Assignment: On average, children are 12.1 when they receive their first mobile device and of children 8 years of age and younger 2 percent have their own cell phone.”  Mobile phone use is growing.  How can we teach children the meaning of “community” and friendship” in the use of devices that can track us, that can be hacked, and can be used for cyberbullying?  Do we, as teachers, have a responsibility for showing proper use or is this the responsibility of the parents? What advice does your group have for using technology in teaching in ways that increases meaningful learning?  Give two guidelines.


Guideline 1: Implement holistic computer science standards that fully address digital citizenship. We recommend the ones in the Computer Science Teacher Association (CSTA) Computer Science Standards (2011).

Guideline 2: Talk to your colleagues and PTOs about how the internet is a neutral tool. Many of them will have strong feelings about it one way or the other: some will be luddites, some will be futurists. Many will be blinded with fear about their kids’ online activities. Strive for meaningful conversations about the positive and negative aspects of the internet, and how adults can improve their digital citizenship skills and share them with their classroom/children.


Ai: My opinion on this matter is that as a teacher we are responsible to guide students to use good manner and etiquette, and only way we can show the proper cyber communication, we need to incorporate them within our lesson.

Ashley: I definitely agree that we need to teach good internet citizen skills in the classroom. Cyber bullying can be dealt with when teaching empathy and understanding in the classroom. The Computer Science Teacher Association has come up with some really helpful standards for teaching computer skills in a holistic manner, and one of the “strands” it deals with is Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts, which concerns digital citizenship. I think if these standards were implemented that it would really help.

Excerpt from Computer Science Teacher Association (CSTA) Computer Science Standards (2011)
Strand 4.2.5 Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts
The ethical use of computers and networks is a fundamental aspect of computer science at all levels and should be seen as an essential element of both learning and practice. As soon as students begin using the Internet, they should learn the norms for its ethical use. Principles of personal privacy, network security, software licenses, and copyrights must be taught at an appropriate level in order to prepare students to become responsible citizens in the modern world. Students should be able to make informed and ethical choices among various types of software such as proprietary and open source and understand the importance of adhering to the licensing or use agree- 12 • csta k–12 computer science standards ments. Students should also be able to evaluate the reliability and accuracy of information they receive from the Internet.

Computers and networks are a multicultural phenomenon that effect society at all levels. It is essential that K–12 students understand the impact of computers on international communication. They should learn the difference between appropriate and inappropriate social networking behaviors. They should also appreciate the role of adaptive technology in the lives of people with various disabilities.

Computing, like all technologies, has a profound impact on any culture into which it is placed. The distribution of computing resources in a global economy raises issues of equity, access, and power. Social and economic values influence the design and development of computing innovations. Students should be prepared to evaluate the various positive and negative impacts of computers on society and to identify the extent to which issues of access (who has access, who does not, and who makes the decisions about access) impact our lives. (The CSTA Standards Task Force, 2011, p.11-12)

Excerpt from Computer Science Teacher Association (CSTA) Computer Science Standards (2011)
Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts (CI)
Grades K–3 (L1:3.CI)
The student will be able to:

  1. Practice responsible digital citizenship (legal and ethical behaviors) in the use of technology systems and software.
  2. Identify positive and negative social and ethical behaviors for using technology.

Grades 3–6 (L1:6.CI)
The student will be able to:

  1. Discuss basic issues related to responsible use of technology and information, and the consequences of inappropriate use.
  2. Identify the impact of technology (e.g., social networking, cyber bullying, mobile computing and communication, web technologies, cyber security, and virtualization) on personal life and society.
  3. Evaluate the accuracy, relevance, appropriateness, comprehensiveness, and biases that occur in electronic information sources.
  4. Understand ethical issues that relate to computers and networks (e.g., equity of access, security, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property). (p. 15)

Grades 7-9 (L2:9:CI)
The student will be able to:

  1. Exhibit legal and ethical behaviors when using information and technology and discuss the consequences of misuse.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of changes in information technologies over time and the effects those changes have on education, the workplace, and society.
  3. Analyze the positive and negative impacts of computing on human culture.
  4. Evaluate the accuracy, relevance, appropriateness, comprehensiveness, and bias of electronic information sources concerning real-world problems.
  5. Describe ethical issues that relate to computers and networks (e.g., security, privacy, ownership, and information sharing).
  6. Discuss how the unequal distribution of computing resources in a global economy raises issues of equity, access, and power. (p. 17)

Flow chart of standards for the Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts strand:
computer ethics standards flow

Ashley: A great example of how the internet can help build community and compassion when it is missing locally (Prager, 2014). I think a really important thing to remember is that there is a lot of bullying that happens outside of the internet, and kids who are most at risk in small communities (LGBTQ and racial minority youth) often need to go outside of their local IRL community to find a safe space and a sense of community online. LGBTQ youth are online more than non-LGBTQ youth; about 45 minutes longer every day. As for a greater sense of community: “LGBT youth reported high rates of civic engagement online, including having taken part in an online community that supports a cause or issue (77%), gotten the word out about a cause or an issue (76%), written a blog or posted comments on another blog about a cause or an issue (68%), and used the Internet to participate in or recruit people for an event or activity (51%)…For each form of online or text-based engagement, LGBT youth participated at rates that were approximately twice those of non-LGBT youth.” (GLSEN, CiPHR, & CCRC, 2013).

“For many LGBT youth, online spaces offer one’s first opportunity to connect to other LGBT people.” (GLSEN, CiPHR, & CCRC, 2013). This is such an important lifeline for youth that are at greater risk for depression, self-harm, eating-disorders, and suicide. The It Gets Better Project was started online by sex-advice columnist Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller as a way to reach out to LGBTQ youth around the world, and let them know that they are not alone and give them hope (Savage Love, LLC; 2014).

Ai:  It’s really important that we stress these issue to our students.  I run across an negative example (what happens if we do not use cyber etiquette) this week on facebook page: offensive comments on Facebook yard sale page. The bigger issue here is that facebook nor the page administrator did not control the matter, and it kept escalating.  Of course, the facebook has some guideline and standards, but they were no good since“(the comments and photos) were within their community standards.” Police are investigating on this issue, but this is truly disgusting.

Ai: Here are some other cyber bullying stories with very regretful results…  We must educate our students… what information should be shared online, as well as the horrible consequences of the action.  I know that some people may feel that these things should be taught at home, but I feel school being in a social setting has more advantage in relating to the issues.

Ai: I think this video sums up our concerns… and it happens Every Day.

Ai: Here is a link to the obligation guideline.  Also, this site: http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/federal/ explains both federal and state laws and policies.

Ashley: This part is of the utmost importance, because it makes it clear that it is OUR responsibility as educators to stop bullying: “When bullying and harassment overlap, federally-funded schools (including colleges and universities) have an obligation to resolve the harassment.” (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2014).

Ashley: Video: this one has boys and girls reacting to the Amanda Todd video; it’s powerful and gets the raw reactions of teenagers to bullying…
at 5:39 a young man hits the nail on the head: “ High school students, you know, they feel weak, so they pick on people weaker than them. So they can at least, you know, have some power. And they find an easy target, like someone who already has past problems and they just, they make it worse without realizing that, you know, that that has very bad consequences (TheFineBros, 2012).

Ai: Good video, totally agree with the boy.

National Crime Prevention Council: Teaching Youth Cyber Ethics
iKeepSafe.org: Cyber-Ethics
Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship
Cyber Etiquette for Teens: Top Ten Tips
Appropriate Online Behavior Social Networking Etiquette Cyber Bullying Awareness
Computer Science Teacher Association (CSTA) Computer Science Standards



Abbott, C. (Director), & STRUTT Central (Producer). (2013, March 9). Cyber bullying virus [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmQ8nM7b6XQ

GLSEN, CiPHR, & CCRC (2013). Out online: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth on the Internet. New York: GLSEN.

iKeepSafe. (2015). Cyber-Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.ikeepsafe.org/educators_old/more/c3-matrix/cyber-ethics/

Lohmann, R. (2010, December 11). Cyber Etiquette for Teens. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/teen-angst/201012/cyber-etiquette-teens

Prager, J. (2015, April 27). Support rolls in for bullied teen whose cries for help were ignored by school [Editorial]. Addicting Info. Retrieved from http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/ 04/27/support-rolls-in-for-bullied-teen-whose-cries-for-help-were-ignored-by-school-video/

Savage Love, LLC. (2014). It gets better project. Retrieved from http://www.itgetsbetter.org/

The CSTA Standards Task Force. (2011). CSTA K–12 Computer Science Standards (Publication No. 978-1-4503-0881-6). Retrieved http://csta.acm.org/Curriculum/sub/CurrFiles/ CSTA_K-12_CSS.pdf

TheFineBros (Directors). (2012, November 18). Teens react to bullying (Amanda Todd) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF6cmddWOgU

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2014, March 21). Federal laws. Stopbullying.gov. Retrieved from http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/federal/

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