Key aspects of digital citizenship
Digital citizenship is an evolving concept, encompassing key skills, values, and behaviours. It is about appropriate interactions with people and information online. Digital citizenship includes:
- Literacy skills – especially digital literacy, information literacy, critical literacy, and media literacy.
- Critical thinking skills – having a sceptical and evaluative mindset.
- Creativity – using and creating digital content in meaningful ways.
- Communication and collaboration – meaningful and purposeful interactions.
- Responsible and ethical actions – maintaining standards of behaviour.
- Rights and responsibilities – having accountability for actions.
- Legal considerations – being respectful of intellectual property and other legal protections.
- Security and privacy – for the protection of self and others.
- Personal reputation – including a digital footprint/tattoo determined by online activity.
- Health and wellness – physical and emotional wellbeing.
- Access – equitable access to digital technologies and the internet.
- Promotion – active support of digital citizenship values.
The importance of digital citizenship
Young people are already citizens, online and offline. Online, digital citizenship skills, values, and behaviours are vital.
A digital citizen is 'someone who can fluently combine digital skills, knowledge and attitudes in order to participate in society as an active, connected, lifelong learner,' using Netsafe's 2016 definition.
Students benefit in their learning and life when they're able digital citizens. It supports the vision of the New Zealand Curriculum for young people to:
- be confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners
- seize the opportunities offered by new knowledge and technologies to secure a sustainable social, cultural, economic, and environmental future for our country
- develop the values, knowledge, and competencies that will enable them to live full and satisfying lives.
It is important that all school staff model good digital citizenship, so staff need to develop their individual awareness and capability. Share these documents as part of your school's development plan.
What is a good digital citizen? (pdf, 187KB)
Digital citizenship agreement for school staff – template (docx, 164KB)
Develop digital citizenship in your school
Digital citizenship is dynamic. Remember that developing it is a journey. Being agile and adaptive is key to success.
Your digital citizenship reflects your culture and context. Plan your own approach for your unique school. Consider its scope, importance, and relevance for your students and community.
1. Define what digital citizenship is for your school
- Explore a range of digital citizenship models to see what suits your own context.
- Do research into what your school and community understand about digital citizenship.
- Involve staff, students, parents and various members of the community in defining digital citizenship – they play an important role in identifying and reinforcing values, establishing expectations, and developing guidelines and rules to live by.
2. Focus on a capabilities approach
- Recognise the skills and positive behaviours your students already exhibit online.
- Move away from a fear-based approach, which only recognises dangers.
- Determine what you want to encourage, and what needs correction or redirection.
3. Develop a policy
- Get the involvement of students, staff and the community. A co-created document that ties in with existing school values and agreements makes it more likely that the ideas and concepts of digital citizenship will be embraced.
- Follow Anne Collier's five pillars of intelligent policy-making around digital citizenship:
- citizen-sourced – based on active inclusion of student voice
- skills in three literacies – digital literacy, media literacy, and social literacy
- practice – recognising citizenship as a verb
- recognise rights – protection, provision, and participation (UN Committee of the Rights of the Child)
- agency – recognising young people as stakeholders in their own citizenship and wellbeing.
The heart of digital citizenship (YouTube video, 19:00) – Anne Collier’s TEDx talk about the human elements of digital citizenship.
4. Think about how digital citizenship is taught and learned
- Integrate the teaching and learning of digital citizenship across the curriculum, instead of treating it as a standalone topic.
- Integrate pedagogy and the provision of digital resources within a school. Your school library can be valuable in this.
- Consider how digital literacy is developed in your school – it's a foundation of digital citizenship.
Your library and digital citizenship – explore how your school library can help support digital citizenship
Strategies for developing digital literacy – find a range of strategies to develop digital literacy in your school
- How confident and capable are your students and staff in using ICT? What capabilities do they need to develop?
- What are the current levels of digital citizenship within the school? How can these be developed further?
- Do students and staff demonstrate honesty, integrity, and ethics in their use of ICT and their online interactions?
- What guidelines currently exist for the use of ICT, digital resources, and online interactions at the school? Are there further guidelines that need development?
- How do members of the school community use digital technologies? Do they use it for educational, social, and economic activities? How could, or should, they be doing this?
- How well does the community understand digital citizenship? Do they know its role in different learning environments? How has this been communicated to parents?
- Are the values of digital citizenship being actively promoted at the school? How can they be?
Resources to help you develop digital citizenship in your school
The following are some useful resources that can help you develop a digital citizenship framework and programme in your school:
- The Netsafe Schools – a free programme designed to help New Zealand schools and kura establish, develop and promote online safety, citizenship, and wellbeing in their school community.
- OSAPAC – a digital citizenship framework and implementation plan.
Useful models of digital citizenship
Many models of digital citizenship exist. In New Zealand, 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
Netsafe – Digital citizenship and digital literacy — developed through consultation with teachers and with the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum in mind, so is a good starting point for considering digital citizenship.
To deepen your understanding, explore a range of approaches to inform how digital citizenship will look in your school. Other models of digital citizenship include: