What is Digital Citizenship?

Technology changes have brought many new learning opportunities to New Zealand school students. New technology has also created challenges for schools to prepare our students to become global, digital citizens for the 21st Century. As digital citizens - students will need to use technology confidently and safely, in a way that supports modern learning and helps them participate in the future work force.

Digital literacy or the ability to understand and fully participate in the digital world is fundamental to digital citizenship. It is the combination of technical and social skills that enable a person to be successful and safe in the information age. Like literacy and numeracy initiatives which provide people with the skills to participate in the work force, digital literacy has become an essential skill to be a confident, connected, and actively involved life long learner.

A digital citizen:

  • 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 advocates for the following six principles to underpin approaches to the development of digital citizenship:

  1. Ako | Young people are “active agents” in the design and implementation of digital citizenship, including approaches to online safety
  2. Whānaungatanga | An unbounded, coherent home-school-community approach is central to the development of digital citizenship and online safety management
  3. Manaakitanga | Approaches to digital citizenship are inclusive, responsive and equitable in design and implementation
  4. Wairuatanga | Digital citizenship in action positively contributes to wellbeing and resilience development enabling safer access to effective learning and social opportunities
  5. Mahi tahi | Digital citizenship development and online safety incident management are fostered through partnership approaches, coherent systems and collaboration
  6. Kotahitanga | Evaluation and inquiry underpin the ongoing design of digital citizenship approaches, based on rich evidence from young people and their whānau.

(Cited from the Websafe Website)

Further Information for Parents/Caregivers

What is digital citizenship?: NetSafe, in consultation with New Zealand teachers has produced this definition of a New Zealand Digital Citizen.

Learn, Guide, Protect Project: The LGP project produces content to support digital citizenship and digital literacy education.

Netsafe: New Zealand’s dedicated organisation that offers resources covering key issues for teachers, parents and students about digital citizenship and online safety.

Cyber bullying in New Zealand: John Fenaughty, Research Manager at NetSafe, discusses cyber bullying in New Zealand and offers advice for parents.