Digital Citizenship: More Dos, Less Don’ts

Title Digital Citizenship More Do's Less Don'ts

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.

2019-Uber...order yourself a stranger from the internet to get into a car with

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?


Digital Citizenship Infographic Don'ts vs 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.

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models, Technology

Tags: , , ,

6 replies

  1. Thanks for this, Ashley! I’m doing a digital citizenship lesson with 6th graders this week. After my presentation, students make memes for any of the topics we cover. I’m going to challenge them today to use DOs and not DON’Ts!

  2. I’d love to see their memes! Tag me if you share them social media, please.

  3. Act responsibly. Be a positive digital citizen.

  4. The two ways I can think of are the following:

    First, I won’t stress on telling the students not to share drama online, or to refrain from posting heated impulsive messages, or leash out on other people’s online posts. Instead, I would ask them to keep their drama in a journal/dairy, reflect on them and find positive ways to solve the issues. Then, they will post and share their experiences on how to cope with similar issues.

    Second, instead of telling them not to be rude online, I would ask them to watch for a few negative posts people have displayed online. Turn them into positive/constructive posts, then share them to educate others.

  5. I love the positive Do’s list ! It set a great tone for all of us. Making a positive impact for everyone.

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