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Digital Citizenship

author:Glenys Harwood

Digital Citizenship:

Digital Citizens are those who use a range of information technologies to communicate to others. Wikipedia states that "digital citizenship begins the first time any child, teen or adult signs up for an email address, posts pictures online, buys merchandise online, and/or participates in any[kind of] electronic function."  It can be understood as the skills, knowledge, and values required to be an effective, ethical and safe user of ICT. "A digital citizen understands the rights and responsibilities of inhabiting cyberspace."

We live in a world where kids have far more skills then their parents technically and learn these skills at a faster pace. They are "digital natives" where it is just part of their life and comes as naturally as the art of learning to read and write and for some even faster. These digitally plugged in kids face huge challenges around their online presence and need support in creating an online world that's responsible and respectful.

As educators realise the importance of utilizing technology safely and effectively to support students in their learning they also understand the importance of giving them the skills to protect themselves. Understanding that once uploaded information can be disseminated faster and longer than any piece of work written in pen can.

It is
not just about teaching kids to be digitally safe but to be digitally smart.

NetSafe defines a digital citizen as someone who:

  •    is a confident and capable user  of  ICT 
  • uses technologies to participate in educational, cultural, and economic activities                            
  • uses and develops critical thinking skills in cyberspace                                                                                              
  •  is literate in the language, symbols, and texts of digital technologies
  • is aware of ICT challenges and can manage them effectively
  •  uses ICT to relate to others in positive, meaningful ways
  •   demonstrates honesty and integrity and ethical behaviour in their use of ICT
  •  respects the concepts of privacy and freedom of speech in a digital world
  •  contributes and actively promotes the values of digital citizenship.

Students today require a learning environment  that is beyond the walls of their classrooms and takes them globally into a world of opportunities. To do this we need to empower them to do it successfully and safe. There are many resources available for both teachers and parents.  The Education Ministry's own site under e-learning offers support in this area. 2012