Citizenship in a Digital Age

I know that bad news sells but the lack of positive digital citizenship stories has been irritating me for a while. What started as a small irritation has ended up in this blogpost. The mainstream media seems determined to pigeonhole digital citizenship as being purely about online safety. It also follows this up with talk of teenaged “digital natives” and implying that they exist in a seedy online world which we older folk could possibly never understand.

It is important to educate all people (not just children) about how to stay safe online including cybersafety, security of your devices and what to do about online bullying. It is not, however such a doom and gloom situation as it seems the mainstream media makes it out to be. In fact I find it interesting how quickly students soak up this information and really appreciate having more knowledge on what to do in certain situations.

A great example of how quickly even young students learn how to stay safe is the great advice shared during the kidsedchat Digital Safety discussion last week. These are Primary school students now demonstrating true citizenship by helping others stay safe online! These students meet up every week to discuss different topics which is where we really start to see what digital citizenship means in action: they are participating in a purposeful activity online, thinking critically, relating to others in positive ways and helping each other manage challenges. Check out http://kidsedchatnz.blogspot.co.nz/ for more.

In a secondary context, our students at Hobsonville Point Secondary School created their own Digital Citizenship pledges. The students in my hub did not just focus on online safety and bullying in their pledges but also on aspects like digital manners and attributing ideas to where they have got them from.

Online safety is not the only aspect of digital citizenship. The commonly accepted and used definition of Digital Citizenship in New Zealand comes from NetSafe:

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