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Digital Citizenship

2/11/2010 12:37:00 PM

I don't know who coined the term "digital citizen" but the more I hear it the more I like it.

We spend a lot of time, both in and out of school, teaching our kids how to become model citizens in the non-cyber world. But we're not quite so diligent when it comes to teaching them how to behave online.

There are lots of reasons for this. Maybe it's because most of the time we don't see what's going on; or maybe it's because we fear that our kids know a lot more about the digital world than we do. Or maybe our kids have good grades and lots of friends and we don't think they need any help.

I was reminded of the concept of digital citizenship again the other day when I re-read a paper written by Nancy Willard back in 2008. Nancy is the Director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use and is a longtime advocate for teaching kids responsible online behavior.

In her paper, Nancy suggested that schools will play a major role in preparing young people to use digital technology safely and wisely. Although we are still a long way from seeing that vision fulfilled, she's certainly doing her bit by compiling a series of downloadable videos and handouts that can assist educators in tackling this important task.

In the meantime, it's up to us as parents to step into the void. Here are Nancy's four steps to becoming a responsible digital citizen:

1) Understand the risks

  • Know how to avoid getting into risk, detect if you are at risk, and respond effectively, including asking for help

2) Be responsible and ethical

  • Do not harm others
  • Respect the privacy and property of others

3) Pay attention to the well-being of others

  • Make sure their friends and others are safe
  • Report concerns to an appropriate adult or site

4) Promote online civility and respect

It's no surprise that most of the qualities required to become a responsible digital citizen are similar to the qualities we would wish for in a regular citizen. Even if you are not a tech-savvy parent, that's a pretty good roadmap to follow.

Should our schools teach cyber awareness and digital citizenship or is it the responsibility of parents? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!  

Comment by makeityourring diamond engagement rings, posted 11/23/2011, 6:49 AM:

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