According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, citizenship is “membership in a community (such as a college); the quality of an individual’s response to membership in a community.” It stands to reason that when considering digital citizenship, the same definition can apply. Rather than a citizen of a physical community, digital citizenship refers to the quality of an individual’s response to virtual communities. Digital citizenship is the concept of consuming and producing technological artifacts in a way that is respectful and beneficial to all.
I’ve often seen, and have been guilty of, using a list of DON’Ts when teaching digital citizenship. Don’t share your personal information. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t cyberbully. Don’t post rude comments. I’ve even considered lesson plans based on scaring students. I remember one particular lesson about a local teenager who had been kidnapped after supposedly meeting with a friend she had only known online; this was an actual event when I was in high school in the late 1990s. While it may have been a reality shock for some students, for many, it didn’t register. Their world begins partly online. With digital pregnancy journals, gender reveal videos, and baby hashtags, our students are having their life digitized before they are even born.
I often think of the meme relating to meeting people from the Internet. While I don’t know the origin of it, it became a hot topic at a recent family event. My brother and niece were completely shocked that I often use Uber and Lyft.
“I’ve seen CSI! You’re going to get kidnapped one of these times and end up on the news” my niece pleaded. “Take a cab like everyone else.” We’re from a small town, y’all. In her defense, she didn’t know Ubers and Lyfts have all but replaced yellow cabs. And, honestly, how is that any different?
And, what exactly are we teaching students with these scare tactics? Wouldn’t it be more effective and have more real-life application to use this as an opportunity to teach our students how to use the situation for a positive outcome? In this case, I spent time talking with my niece about Uber and Lyft being a means of income for people. There are strategies to use when requesting a ride (look for a photo, make sure the license plate matches, check door locks).
So, what other ways can we take the DON’Ts of digital citizenship and turn it into DO’s?
For more ideas on flipping the script of digital citizenship and ways to create less DON’Ts and more DO’s, check out the resources I’ve compiled on Wakelet!
Author: Ashley Cooksey
Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.