My digital citizenship mantra is”Be respectful, responsible and productive both in person and online”.
My digital citizenship related video can be seen here
Understanding the Digital Citizenship Elements
In today’s technology-driven world, the internet is the most inclusive and easily accessible source of information. As it is being more available to everyone, schools, educators and parents are understanding that there is another component to education that cannot be overlooked; digital citizenship. Digital citizenship is gaining more attention due to recent events stemming from cyberbullying suicides and other Internet-related issues. The purpose of this literature review is to analyze primarily digital citizenship and its nine elements.
The Elements of Digital Citizenship
Digital citizenship is a very broad topic and everybody has their own point of view about it, but they all come down to the same concept. Ribble (2015) describes digital citizenship as” It is the safe, savvy and ethical use of the Internet. Terry Heik (2015) defines digital citizenship as “The quality of habits, actions, and consumption forms that impact the ecology of digital content and communities”. On the digital citizenship website, digital citizenship has been described as “It is the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use”. My interpretation of digital citizenship is simply being respectful, responsible and productive while using digital environment. According to Ribble and Bailey (2007), digital citizenship includes nine different dimensions: digital access, digital commerce, digital communication, digital literacy, digital etiquette, digital law, digital rights and responsibilities, digital health and wellness, and digital security. Nine elements of digital citizenship are interdependent to each other. In order to make it easy to understand the digital citizenship, Ribble categorizes the nine elements under the three relevant principles: Respect, Educate and Protect.
This is the first element of digital citizenship. Digital access ensures the complete participation of all citizens in an electronic environment and is outlined as “full electronic participation in society”(Ribble , 2017).
Digital commerce is the second principle of digital citizenship that means electronically buying and selling of goods. Digital natives are consumer and outcome-oriented so they really like to purchase online. But unfortunately, they do not have the experience to buy things online. They lack knowledge of sensitive information of online shopping. This concept is probably the most troublesome component of digital citizenship for teachers to address in the classroom. Educators may think it is not their obligation to instruct students to be informed, however, online purchasing has become a key factor in students’ lives, making it mandatory to teach all aspects of these online transactions (Ribble,2015).
The third tenet of digital citizenship is “digital communication” which basically states the exchange of information. In the19th-century people started using letters, telegraphs, and telephones in order to contact people and make business in other towns and countries. Advancements in technology significantly shifted the way people interacted with one another. Out of all of the ways of communications, the internet is the most common tool. For that reason, people need to know the basics of online communication. In daily life, many people or companies use e-mail as it provides a record of the message. The issue of disrespect online seems to occur because of the fact that online communication is not same as speaking to someone face-to-face. Companies are much more disrespectful online than in person.
The fourth of the digital citizenship component is called “digital literacy” which is the skill to complete tasks effectively in a digital environment. Digitally literate people can read, reproduce, evaluate and apply new knowledge gained from digital environments.
Ohler (2012) expresses that digital citizenship or “character education” should be the main concern for educators. Technology-infused learning is being universal every day so teachers should be digitally literate to foster a sense of digital citizenship. Even though digital tools are available in most schools, teachers are slow to transform the ways they teach because many lack the knowledge or skill of using digital tools. Technology is here to stay, so teachers should try to meet the student’s actual needs and help them in complementing their education using technology in a meaningful way. Instead of participating irrelated seminars or workshops, admins and teachers should get necessary training and guidance about being a good digital citizen. Designers of digital tools and educators should corporate with each other.
Digital etiquette means being aware of ethical rules while using virtual environment. Common sense, politeness, and respect are the three indispensable components that everybody should keep in mind when digital etiquette is mentioned. From an early age, students should be educated about the appropriate and inappropriate ways to treat one another. It is essential that students transfer that understanding of appropriate behavior into the digital world. They should fully understand that their actions in the digital world can have an influence on others.
Many of the students right now, unfortunately, do not care about digital citizenship and moral values. They believe that they should be allowed to use anything on the internet. Both parents and schools ought to be in charge of teaching children the appropriate meaning of digital etiquette. Everyone, including homeschool students, should also learn to effectively and responsibly use technology.
The digital law is “the electronic obligation for actions and deeds” (Ribble, 2011, p. 31). It involves legal topics like intellectual assets and copyright laws. Copyright laws avoid the reproduction, distribution, modification, performance, etc. of another person’s intellectual work. With the internet, information can be accessed or shared very easily and quickly, but we should always remember our responsibility and consider the appropriateness of the material. While using someone’s work, we should give credit to the author of the copyright holder. Disregarding the laws and obligations do not protect us from confronting the real consequences in the physical world. Parents and educators should address the appropriate conduct, the best practices for technology use and the consequences for misconduct of technological resources.
Digital Rights and Responsibilities
The sixth element of digital citizenship is digital rights and responsibilities. People are establishing connections with other people in the digital world and should, therefore, act according to rights and responsibilities. The Internet provides more freedom and rights than the real world. As long as internet users know their limit and accountability, digital technology has the potential to open many doors. Everybody should be aware of this privilege and should act accordingly. All the internet users are members of the digital world, and they have right to express themselves freely in the virtual environment. Digital rights and responsibilities are particularly important to my organization because homeschool students and parents are the main users of the internet.
Digital Wellness and Health
Digital wellness and health is another element of digital citizenship which defines the means of being physically and mentally well.
According to research that was conducted, Pew Internet Project (2012) teenagers and adults are very occupied with technology and social interactions. Some 95% of teens ages 12-17 are online, 76% use social networking sites, and 77% have cell phones. Moreover, 96% of those ages 18-29 are internet users, 84% use social networking sites, and 97% have cell phones. Apparently, Googling, emailing, texting and online chatting is becoming a very significant part of our daily life. After this online engagement, while some people can easily unplug themselves from the internet, others might find it very difficult to disengage from the appealing sides of internet use.
Unfortunately, using digital technology frequently can cause a physical and mental disorder. People who are exposed to the internet for extended periods of time have a hard time of focusing because their attention span reduces, and later on in life, they cannot even complete a single task. Alvaro Retana, a notable technologist with Hewlett-Packard, shares concerns about human ability and future challenges and he states that the short attention spans resulting from the quick interactions will be detrimental to focusing on the harder problems, and he expects stagnation in many areas: technology, even social places such as literature”. Another problem that is quickly escalating all around the world is called internet addiction. Like other types of addictions, it makes users dependent and withdrawn from the real world. In the long-term, those types of people can harm themselves or others, and the outcomes may be very detrimental. In addition, children spend a great deal of time with the computer causing obesity, carpal tunnel, and eye strain. Rapidly flashing images can even trigger epileptic seizures, as indicated by authors of “The Impact of Home Computer Use on Children’s Activities and Development,” published by Princeton University. People should be aware of these dangers that the internet holds.
Digital security is the last element of digital citizenship. Today, increasing number of individuals are consistently involving with digital devices and environments. Digital security covers protecting ourselves and others from outside effects that might cause harm. Throughout online interaction, more sensitive data is recorded, which is why protecting the information should be everyone’s priority. The advantages of technology are apparent – but there are also some security threats. We install security systems to protect our home, and we should possess the same concern for internet connections. We need to be aware of the possible risks and should take precautions to ensure our safety in the virtual environment.
Information technology has brought a lot of convenience in life. It has never been so easy to access things with little effort for such a low cost. From the comfort of our home, we can do many things. No matter what the purpose is, wherever internet is used, people leave a footprint behind, which is referred to as “Digital Footprint”. Digital footprints can be left with many ways like web searches, credit card purchases, bank accounts, phone records, medical records and so on.
The digital footprint is unique like fingerprints. It’s like a digital passport that keeps track of where we are on the internet. We have both an intentional and unintentional digital footprint (Ohler,2015). The intentional footprint is one that noticeable, consciously created, proactive, manageable and controllable. The unintentional footprint is one that is uncontrollable, passive and unnoticeable.
In his article (2001) Marc Prensky calls the 21st-century adults as an immigrant of this age and the new generation as a digital native. According to him, today’s students are the first generations to grow up with modern technology.
No doubt, the internet is the most remarkable innovation and if it is used properly it can be an extremely useful tool for everyone. However, like every other invention, it has a gray side. Children, whose age and psychology are immature to understand the inappropriate contents, face the danger of growing up with a distorted and even psychic psychology due to some ill sites like virtual casinos, internet cafes, virtual matchmaking and pornographic sites.
Instant messaging, chat rooms, emails, and social networking sites might lead problems like cyberbullying. In recent years, there have been so many situations in the media that informs kids are suffering from cyberbullying in and out of the school. Even though homeschool learners’ physical interaction with their friends is limited, they might be the victim of cyberbullying without their parent’s notice. Due to these types of problems, they may have to face terrible outcomes and consequences. Cyberbullying is described as “willful and repeated harm caused using computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices” (Hinduja & Patchin, 2015). It consists of posting humiliating videos, sending hateful-harassing messages, making offensive comments, spreading lies, and even death threats on social media profiles. Even though the online world is open to every age group, particularly the teenagers are the ones primarily exposed to interact with virtual strangers. Since they lack life experience, they are not able to handle possible threats appropriately and they eventually make mistakes.
Ferriter (2011) points out that “Students who see digital tools as vehicles for collective action around ideas they believe in are less likely to engage in risky behaviors online because they see social media spaces as forums for learning first and entertainment second”. Consequently, the problem occurs when students see social media forums as an entertainment first and learning second.
This culminating essay is the conclusion of what I have grasped in four weeks. During this course, I have learned a lot of valuable information. This course provided new insights and a fresh perspective including nine digital citizenship elements, digital footprint, cyberbullying and much more.
I think it was lack of foresight to present internet to the public before preparing the internet infrastructure and rules. It is obvious that digitally literate parent’s only can make a notable difference by modeling and inspire the students with proper usage of digital tools. So, our duty is to instruct our children about being protected online and show how to be a good Digital Citizen. If we show and challenge our learners to think about appropriate ways to utilize technology tools, they could think critically and interact responsibly in our digital world (Common Sense Media, 2016).
The Internet is being an important part of teaching and learning every year. Nevertheless, many students, educators, and parents still do not know how to use technology appropriately. Like every innovation, the internet has some cons. While enjoying the advantages of the internet, we should be aware of its dark side and take the necessary steps to avoid online hazards. At school digital citizenship should be given as a curriculum. Every year educators are facing diverse types of problems. Students’ problems and needs are exposed to change; therefore, rules and policies should be altered to meet learner needs in schools. There should be programs that are prepared by the school community. These communities should consist of teachers, counselors, librarians, educational technology and curriculum specialists, and IT managers. All the members should actively engage in the process and take the required training for the success of the program. After all, is done, students can be expected to behave as they should in the digital world, both within the school and outside of the school.
Ferriter, W. M. (2011). Digitally Speaking. Educational Leadership, 68(7), 92.
Heick,T. (2013). The Definition of Digital Citizenship. Teachthought.com. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/digital-citizenship-the-future-of-learning/the-definition-of-digital-citzenship/
Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2015). Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyperbullying. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Education Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 77(8), 14-17. (PDF: Ohler_Digital_citizenship_means_character_education_2012pdf)
Ohler, J. (2015). Digital Footprints, Digital Citizenship Beyond School. Retrieved September 16, 2017, from http://www.jasonohler.com/wordpressii/?page_id=51
Prensky, M. (October ,2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, 9(5). Retrieved October 4, 2017, from http://marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky
Rainie, J. A. (2012, February 28). Main findings: Teens, technology, and human potential in 2020. Retrieved October 05, 2017, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/02/29/main-findings-teens-technology-and-human-potential-in-2020/
Ribble, M. (2011). Digital citizenship in schools. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.
Ribble, M. (2015). Digital Citizenship in Schools: Nine Elements All Students Should Know. International Society for Technology in Education.
Nine Elements. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2017, from http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html
Subrahmanyam, K., Kraut, R. E., Greenfield, P. M., & Gross, E. F. (2000). The Impact of Home Computer Use on Children’s Activities and Development. Retrieved September 27, 2017, from https://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/docs/10_02_05.pdf