Digital Citizenship

Matt Zando

What is Digital Citizenship?

Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. Digital citizenship includes etiquette, communication, literacy, access, commerce, law, rights & responsibilities, health & wellness, and security.

Digital Citizenship is a concept which helps teachers, technology leaders, and parents talk about what all users should know regarding appropriate technology use. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare students/technology users for a society full of technology. Too often we see students as well as adults misuse and abuse technology because they are unaware of what is appropriate. Our goal for this lesson is to help you become aware of what is appropriate and what could be harmful.

Respect Yourself and Others

Digital Access: Technology users need to be aware that not everyone has the same opportunities when it comes to technology. Working toward equal digital rights and supporting electronic access is the starting point of Digital Citizenship.

Digital Etiquette: We recognize inappropriate behavior when we see it but before people use technology they do not learn from digital etiquette. It is not enough to create rules and policy we must teach everyone to become responsible digital citizens in this new society.

Digital Law: 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.

Educate Yourself and Connect with Others

Digital Commerce: 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 needs to be aware of the issues associated with it.

Digital Communication: 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.

Digital Literacy: Learners must be taught how to learn in a digital society. 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.

Protect Yourself and Protect Others

Digital Rights & Responsibilities: 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.

Digital Health & Wellness: 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 are inherent dangers of technology.

Digital Security: 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. 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.


21 Things 4 Teachers: Ethics, Evaluations, Internet Safety & Acceptable Use

Digital Citizenship: Using Technology Appropriately

Eithical Use & Digital Citizenship Links:

Common Sense Media:


  • A large-scale study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (released in January 2010) of ages 8-18 year olds found they devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media in a typical day. They are also doing a great deal of 'media multitasking.' Below are some of the results from the report:
  • Those owning cell phones spent an average of 56 minutes talking on it (2009), and on a regular phone 41 minutes).
  • 93% Reported they had computers in their home, and 87% with video game players that hook to the TV.
  • 84% had Internet access, and 43% had high-speed access. 36% reported having Internet access in their bedroom.
  • The average number of text messages sent in a day was 118, and those in grades 7-12 spent an average of 2.5 hours messaging.
  • 44% said their parents did not have any rules regarding cell phone use