What’s the big deal about Digital Citizenship?

I keep hearing about Digital Citizenship! What is the big deal and why should I pay any attention to it?

One of my biggest goals as a parent is for my child to become a nice, thoughtful human being. Forty years ago, that would involve teaching them good character habits. We would strive to be a good example, encourage them to be kind, teach them right from wrong, the value of every person, and respecting and helping others.

Guess what? It is the same today! This character education is vital. But, we have one new twist added in which previous generations never dealt with… technology.

child-in-front-of-tvOur kids are bombarded with media including tv, ads, video games, phones, tablets, etc. While you may have taught your child what to do when a kid steals his toy, have you taught him what to do when he sees the same thing happening on tv? Or when he sees an ad for what seems like the coolest toy ever? Or when he sees something inappropriate online? Does he know what to post online or how permanent it is?

As children’s lives become more complex, so does how we parent them.

We are no longer just citizens of our city, state, or country. We are now iCitizens {Digital Citizens} and must learn how to live, contribute, and serve in this new online world.

The fact is, we are concerned about the lives of our children and those they interact with. We want them to be safe, smart, and to contribute positively to society.

We need to arm our children with the tools to be the same good citizen both in person and online.

Before giving your child a device and letting them run free, prepare them with a solid foundation of the 10 facets of Digital Citizenship including character education and media literacy.

Digital Citizenship Defined

As defined by HB213, Digital Citizenship “means the norms of appropriate, responsible, and healthy behavior related to technology use, including digital literacy, ethics, etiquette, and security.” However, just as good citizenship is more than not breaking the law, digital citizenship is more than just avoiding harms online. Technology can enhance and magnify the ability of youth and adults to contribute to and serve in the community and even in the world. Check out our Positives Pilot page to read more on how you can help expand the definition of Digital Citizenship.

What should parents and teachers do?

Have continuous conversations with your children about digital citizenship both before they get a device and after. Practice different scenarios. Arm them with the power to do good things, share the positive, and stay away from the negative.

Digital devices are powerful weapons which give us the power to contribute to and change the world for the better or worse. Help kids know the power they hold in every word they publish.

girl-on-computer digital citizenship

Remember, as you talk to your kids, the more you can move out of lecture mode and into connection mode and co-creation mode, the better! We feel it is so important that we talk with our kids and not just to our kids. {Not about them, without them}

Here are some basic talking points to get the conversation started, (this list is by no means all-inclusive):

  • Teach your kids how to connect with others in uplifting ways. Ask them for their ideas.
  • Show them how to critically analyze the messages they are seeing. Analyze some examples together.
  • Explain how tricky people can be and how to protect themselves and their information online. Ask what kind of information they would like to keep private v. public and why.
  • Teach them how permanent anything posted anywhere is, even if it gets deleted. Ask them how that might affect someone’s future.
  • Prepare them to know how to respond when they see harmful content. Ask if they have seen anything that made them feel uncomfortable.
  • Talk about the different technology tools available and let them create ideas on how they could use it for good.
  • Have them brainstorm some positive ways you can use tech as a family and as individuals.
  • Ask what concerns they have.

Children use technology for hours every day. We can help make those hours count.

Please watch this video! We have shared this video before, but it can never be watched too many times. In this TEDx talk, Devorah Heitner captures exactly what parents are feeling about technology. More importantly, she helps you know what to do next.

Check out our Resources Library to answer questions you may have about different topics to talk to your kids about. Also, notice what positives and negatives are included in Digital Citizenship.

Follow us on Twitter @digcitutah @epikalliance


  1. […] that it is neither. Yet, how we treat technology and what we do with it can be good or bad. Read here about Digital Citizenship and how to use technology for […]

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