Digital citizenship education: Now what is the role of schools to play?

Digital citizenship education

Our world has been transformed by digital technologies and so is the education system. Nowadays online communication and education are becoming an integral mode of establishing connections and learning as new technology is being developed every day. As educators, it has become our responsibility to impart knowledge about digital citizenship education and teach students how to use technology rightly and effectively.  

We all are concerned as the amount of time students spend online is increasing especially by age. How do they navigate the digital space? Are they going to get into a website that’s not appropriate for them? Are they going to come across sensitive content? These questions agitate us. A lot of time conflicts arise due to ignorant activities by students over the internet. Cyber bullying is at a rapid level because students don’t understand the potential of the internet and how quickly things spread online just by clicking one button.  


Let’s understand the meaning of digital citizenship education!

Digital citizenship refers to the ability to use digital technology responsibly and interacting with the digital environment rationally and competently. It encompasses all the activities that support young people and children to participate safely and effectively in the digital world. Most of the time students are not aware of the fact that everything they post online, stays there forever. As educators and school authorities, it is our responsibility to ensure the online safety of our students and equip them with the knowledge and necessary tools that they need. 

Digital citizenship education empowers students with the capability to learn and actively engage in a digital society. It inculcates the skills and understanding among the students about cyberspace and their rights and responsibilities online. The education about digital citizenship also develops online proficiency and awareness in the students about the legal implications of their online activities.


Why has it become important to teach digital citizenship in schools?

Digital citizenship is important for 21st-century skills. It is important to address digital citizenship because it reflects the world we live in. Students connect and collaborate with people they encounter in the digital space. It is our responsibility to do more than just academics and teach our students how to be good digital citizens. Following are some of the reasons why digital citizenship education has become important to teach in classrooms:


1- Online crime rate and instances of cyberbullying are increased against kids.

2-With the advent of technologies in schools, students need to be educated about how they can use the resources effectively.

3- Online safety of students is essential. We must train them to lead responsible digital lives and be proactive.

4- Too much information is available online, students must be guided to differentiate between useful information from spam.

5- Students need to be taught to use technology safely to prevent their health and emotional wellness.

How to teach digital citizenship in schools?

It is important to talk about digital citizenship in the classroom because students have so much engagement with technology and the digital world these days. Sometimes students don’t know what they are doing on the internet or their after-effects. We have outlined some of the ways to teach digital citizenship in classrooms:


1- Include digital citizenship as part of the daily syllabus. Use visuals and discuss topics related to cyber bullying, copyrights, plagiarism, and different aspects of digital citizenship.

2- It is important to have a conversation with the students and help them understand the short as well as the long-term impact of their online activities. As school authorities and educators, we must provide our students with all the tools to help them become good digital citizens. 

3- Schools can conduct workshops to teach students about digital rights and responsibilities, online behaviors, online safety.

4- Group discussions can be organized in the classrooms on topics related to the importance of digital footprint and accountability.


Key Takeaways

We must promote our students to become great 21st-century learners so that they can harness all the great information available online. Students must be prepared to leverage all the knowledge that the digital world has for them. As many schools and educators have started using edtech and AI tools, there must be proper guidelinesfor improving digital education. Educators and schools can play a significant role to teach students how to be safe online and how to protect themselves over the internet.  


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