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What is Digital Citizenship? 

We answer this question with a simple video from our Cyber Civics curriculum for middle schools students:


With the rise in awareness of such digital behavior as cyberbullying, inappropriate photo posting, and other regrettable or even dangerous web activity, it's never been more important to teach kids how to behave with integrity, empathy and self-awareness online.

Verizon: What is digital citizenship?

David Ryan Polgar: Digital citizenship is usually defined as the norms of appropriate tech use. It's a large, umbrella term that encompasses safe, savvy and ethical behavior. If being a good citizen improves the vibrancy of a city or country, being a good digital citizen improves our online environment.

Verizon: At what age should digital citizenship begin to be taught?

Diana Graber:  We believe that digital citizenship should be taught before a child starts connecting with others online.  Media literacy expert Henry Jenkins of USC has written that “the most important media literacy skills are social and behavioral skills.” Thus the most important digital citizenship lessons for young children are age-old social skills, such as play, networking, negotiation performance, and more. Students well versed in social and behavioral skills can then make the leap from the offline to the online world, and in fact they see no difference when it comes to how they treat others.

-Read entire article


Today's tip to teach your children about digital citizenship...
(excerpted from “Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationships for Technology" by Cyber Civics founder Diana Graber)  

 “Teaching Good Citizenship’s Five Themes,” Education World (n.d.) Retrieved on November 2, 2017 from

Every child today will use technology to connect with others in all kinds of new ways, becoming a “citizen” of online communities you may or may not know about. Understanding how to be a good community member offline is fairly easy—the real world is governed by rules, laws, and norms established over time—but that’s not the case online. Many online communities lack rules, laws, and norms, and if there are any, they are sometimes hard for kids to figure out (think of age restrictions buried in the “terms of use” for most games or social media sites). Plus, who cares when online rules are broken?

That’s why it’s important to introduce young people to the five “themes of citizenship.” Tell them that every good citizen—online and offline— should demonstrate the following traits:

  • Honesty. Be truthful and fair. Good citizens must be honest with others, and with themselves. 

  • Compassion. Show care for people and reverence for living things. Compassion gives citizens an emotional bond with their world.

  • Respect. Show regard or consideration for others, and even toward inanimate things or ideas. Good citizens should have respect for laws and reverence for all living things.

  • Responsibility. Be answerable and accountable. Citizens should recognize that their actions have an effect, either positive or negative, upon others. 

  • Courage. Do the right thing even when it’s unpopular, difficult, or dangerous. Many people throughout history—including Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and Mahatma Gandhi—have demonstrated great courage.



Then, do the following: 

  • Tell your children that in the offline world the traits above are generally expected of good citizens. They are norms that civilizations have established over time.

  • Talk to your children about all the offline communities they belong to: sports teams, classroom, city, state, country, even family. Ask them to tell you how they might demonstrate these citizenship principles in one of these communities. Be sure to discuss what it would be like if these communities did not follow these principles (for example, ask them to imagine what it would be like to play soccer without rules or a referee!). 

  • Discuss all the online communities people belong to today—social media sites or online games, for example. Ask them how the citizenship principles might be demonstrated in one of these communities. Be sure to ask them to tell you what it would be like if these communities did not (or do not) follow these same principles​.

Check out the slides teachers and home schoolers get when they subscribe to the curriculum: 

Watch the video embedded in the slides above:


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