Digital Citizenship: An Essential Understanding in the 21st Century

A Definition of Digital Citizenship:

“The self-monitored habits that sustain and improve the digital communities you enjoy or depend on.”


Sheetz Family Assembly Presentations:  Your Life and Times Online
                                                                                      Your Life Online

SFS Parent Presentations: Parenting in the Digital Age (children 0-7)

                                                              Parenting in the Digital Age (Grades 2-4)

Sidwell Friends School 4th Grade - email and online communication workshop: Getting Started on the Right Foot

Jewish Primary Day School Presentation - 5th-6th Graders: Your Life Online

McLean School Parent Workshop: Navigating the Online World

Park School Presentation - Parents and Students: Your Life Online: Becoming a Better Digital Citizen

St Andrew's Episcopal School Presentation - High School Students: Your Life Online: Protecting and Building Your Digital Dossier

JPDS Parent night 2017, CSEE Webinar:  Parenting in the Digital Age (K-12)  (presentation materials) or listen to the Webinar Recording

Reflections on a Digital World - Jenni Swanson Voorhees' blog

At home and school, guide your child through this reflection cycle:

·          Awareness: How the technology I use affects others and myself.

·          Understanding: Uses of technology that are appropriate and inappropriate.

·          Action: Making the best decision in a situation.

·          Deliberation: Did my behavior have a positive or negative influence? Would I do it again?

Source: Ribble and Bailey: Teaching Digital Citizenship Reflection.

A simple list to review frequently with your children:

  1. The internet is public. Don’t post anything you don’t want the whole world to know. This includes revealing photos, offhand comments, etc. Keep the “Mom” rule in mind: “Would I want my Mom to see this?” or how about the college of your choice?
  2. People aren’t necessarily who they say they are. Don’t talk to strangers. If you do, be aware that you don’t know who they really are.  If you have an issue, talk to the person face-to-face – you should know them well enough to be able to contact them.
  3. Avoid any forms of hate speech and inappropriate content. Report it. Don’t do it yourself.
  4. Don't be a bystander - stand up and speak out when you observe bullying behavior. The bystander is the most powerful position in the situation IF you step up and do something.

Stay informed: Review the news when it relates to behavior on the internet. Keep the family informed, discuss the issues and listen to your children’s perspective.

What role are you (and the family) playing?

Digital Footprints - who is leaving them besides the child?

  • Active - content the child posts online
  • Passive - data being gathered about the child, whether meta-data or history tracking the child (avoided if you prevent children from signing into sites requiring them to be 13 or older.)
  • Second-Hand - what friends, family, school, others post about the child - which the child has no control over. (Think of parental Facebook posts of family photos, etc.)

Family Ground Rules

Treat the Behavior, not the Tool: We are all dependent on our technology for work, and our children are no different. If they misbehave, don't be afraid to be the parent and treat the behavior, don’t blame the tool.

Don't be Afraid to be the Parent

Setting limits on our kids when they are passionate about wanting something is hard, but it's our job. 

Give them clear parameters for time online, and high expectations that they will be engaged in creative, challenging activities that causes them to reach frustration, get beyond it, and persevere. Help your child move through frustration and failure to build resilience. That's what it's all about.

Engage with what they are engaged in - ask them to teach you about the games they are playing, the devices they are using, the apps they are fascinated by. Share their world in a positive way.

Here is a list of suggested agreements you can make with your child about using tech tools at home. Written and signed, this document will help establish guidelines before habits get into place:

  • How much (non-homework)online/gaming is appropriate (time depending on the age of the child)?
  • Where should homework be done?
  • What is okay to do besides school work on the tech tool and for how long?
  • Will my parents have access to my browsing history?
  • What rules should there be about social media, instant messaging, and Skype? Who can I talk to? When?
  • What time should the tech tool be put away?
  • Where do phones/laptops go at night? (Consider setting up a family charging station for ALL of you in a central room of the house.)

Safe Searching
  • Young children are not ready to navigate Google's options independently
  • Guide and monitor all searches - they can learn from you
  • Use safe search engines such as

Articles, Websites, Blogs, and Books

Modeling Good Digital Behavior:

From Screenagers to Greenagers - closing the generation gap by sharing experiences (Video)

Navigating Privacy Concerns:

Understanding what they are doing:

What is the Ogle App? - A review of a new, dangerous app linked to Cyberbullying