What does it mean to be a “Digital citizen?”

We have all taken courses in Civics and Government in Middle and High School. I even taught that course for a few semesters. Hopefully, we learned a bit about the government, how it operates, the United States Constitution, and what it means to be a responsible person or member of society in America.Being a “Digital Citizen” could mean a number of different things. Mostly it is being a responsible person in the online community.

But what does “responsible” mean? Briefly, being responsible in any online pursuit means the ability to find and use technology in a competent manner, to critically assess any information found online, and being constantly vigilant to the consequences of our actions. (Common Sense Media 2009) In addition, as an adult online user and an educator, I have a responsibility to students and parents to train students in the elements of Digital Citizenship as seen in Malroy, Edwards, and Woolf, B. (2016).  

These elements center three(3) themes: student learning, the school environment, and the student’s life outside school. Providing for equitable access to an online experience that is open to an exchange of open ideas helps to define learning for the digital citizen. Ensuring a safe and secure school environment where rights and responsibilities are made clear for all users so that she/he may know the best practices to conduct oneself while online. And finally, student’s need to know how to practice responsible online skills because at the end of the day students leave the school and return home to where he or she may engage in online shopping or running a website. Students need to understand that all online actions must be ethical as consequences can result from not following regulations.


Common Sense Media. (2011) Digital Literacy and Citizenship in the 21st Century.           San Francisco. Retrieved from http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/

Malroy, R, Verock-O’Loughlin, R, Edwards, S., Woolf, B. (2016). Transforming        

          Learning with New Technologies (3rd ed). Boston, MA: Pearson.


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