As more of our students’ day is spent in front of screens, teaching Digital Citizenship is becoming more important.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children between the ages of 8-10 years old spend 8 hours per day on technology, while teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day. That is a lot of screen time!
As children develop, their access to technology increases. Therefore it is important for students to learn good tech habits and responsible behavior on the Internet from a young age.
What is Digital Citizenship anyway?
Before we get into more specific reasons why Digital Citizenship matters, it is important that we have a shared understanding of what it means to be a good digital citizen.
According to the Council of Europe, Digital Citizenship can be defined as:
“The competent and positive engagement with digital technologies (creating, working, sharing, socializing, investigating, playing, communicating and learning); participating actively and responsibly (values, skills, attitudes, knowledge) in communities (local, national, global) at all levels (political, economic, social, cultural and intercultural); being involved in a double process of lifelong learning (in formal, informal and non-formal settings) and continuously defending human dignity.” (Council of Europe 2022)
Digital Citizenship teaches young adults how to engage and participate in responsible ways of using technology, in order to protect themselves from internet dangers and respect each other’s human rights.
OK so why is it important?
Many of the reasons for teaching a Digital Citizenship curriculum may be obvious to you, but there are some reasons that are not as straightforward. Here are 4 reasons why we think teaching Digital Citizenship is important!
#1 Prepare our students for success
Students that know how to navigate the digital world will have advantages when entering the workforce. Coding, design skills, data manipulation, and hundreds of other kinds of digital skills can set students apart. Even soft skills like communication or how to present yourself in a virtual environment can give students a leg up in the future.
#2 Keep our students safe for a better future
We teach our students how to be safe in the real world, so it should follow that we must teach them how to be safe in the virtual world as well. It is important for students to learn the basics of sharing personal information, developing good tech habits and protecting their mental health. Specifically with mental health, educating students about screen time, social media and cyberbullying is paramount. In fact, teachers report that cyberbullying is their #1 safety concern in their classrooms according to a recent Google Survey (2019).
#3 They are not all written down, but there are rules
Sometimes the web can feel like the Wild West, but there are rules, laws and respectful behavior that students need to learn. From piracy/illegal downloads to plagiarism… these are things that kids shouldn’t have to learn the hard way. Even something like social etiquette online can be taught- how do students’ digital actions affect others?
#4 Technology is now a big part of student life
Whether we like it or not, a student’s ‘digital life’ is now just ‘student life’. Every school age student is now a digital native. Earlier in this article we mentioned that teenagers are spending up to 11 hours per day with technology. As a society we should not ignore this. In addition to teaching knowledge subjects (English, Math etc.), parents and teachers have a responsibility to ensure that students develop healthy digital habits and the 21st Century skills today for a better future.
How can we teach students to be good Digital Citizens?
There are many resources online for how to develop and/or teach Digital Citizenship curriculum on your own. However we at BGL have created our own live, online Digital Citizenship content to save you the time! If you care about the “4 reasons” we listed above check our Digital Citizenship Virtual Field Trips here. We have several modules that cover topics like: technology balance, online communities, and internet safety.
If you are looking for something more tailored or just want to chat about what could be a good fit for your school or community click here to book a consultation with one of our curriculum developers.