Digital Citizenship

How free are we?

What does citizenship really mean in the 21st century and what are we becoming citizens of? Does it matter if we belong to a specific culture, society, race, tribe or cree, or is it more important to look at ourselves as citizens and people of the world? And moreover, how is the technological world influencing our perceptions of citizenship and the identities that it creates?

These are some of the questions that I would use in my own social studies classes when discussing the ideas of citizenship and that roles that they assume in different societies and cultures. However, there is a common theme in citizenship and that is the idea of freedom (or lack there of). To me, freedom is a key component to citizenship because it allows individuals the ability to choose their own identities and make conscious decisions about their life and the lives of those around them. On the flip side, without any sense of freedom, the collective ideas of citizenship are pre-determined by an outside force. "Perfect freedom is as necessary to the health and vigor of commerce as it is to the health and vigor of citizenship," explains 18th century American politician Patrick Henry. In essence, for societies to run smoothly there has to be a sense of freedom given to the power and to the people.

But with freedom comes responsibilities, and in the every changing world - now digital word - responsible citizenship is a must! This presentations will give 7 key concepts of digital citizenship that pertain to secondary students (in no particular order) and connect them with the ideas of freedom and responsibility, and moreover show whether or not digital citizenship allows for these to exist.


Human rights have evolved over time to include different groups of people (whether or not this is based on gender, race, or cultures) and this has allowed for new freedoms for these people. Digital rights can be looked at in the same light: through conscious decision making in the digital world, rights for students and teachers are expanding. But like in the real world, certain rights exists that might be forbidden in the classroom. It is up to educators and teachers to make sense of those rights for students but ultimately the students have to make the choice about how to act upon those and think if those rights should be challenged. Headline!


Education no longer needs to be rows of desks, stand and deliver lectures, stagnant and boring days. Infusing technology into a classroom connects students with the globalized world with one click of a button. The ability to connect, recap and explore creates a freedom that maps, textbooks and worksheets could never provide. Emails, text messages, tweets, and instagrams will provide a connection with students that they are comfortable with and help create an education freedom.


Communication is key in a classroom, yet to be a responsible digital communicator students need to know the boundaries. Access to one another is much more prevalent then ever before, thus making it easier for students to make rash, emotional connections without thinking about potential consequences. Furthermore, the internet holds every littles secret that has been posted on it. The advantages, however, are that information can be passed instantly, allowing for greater learning and higher levels of engagment.


Living in a digital world allows us access to an infinite amount of information without having to leave the comforts of the classroom. There is something to be said about actual visiting museums, historical sights, and new cities, but the reality is that students lack the access to these tangible entities. The problem with this new freedom to access information is that how do students deem what is authentic information compared to propaganda and skewed histories. Responsible digital citizens need guidance from educators, but need to critically think for themselves.


To have etiquette as a digital citizen a student must assume the role of a role model, to some extent. Teachers need to always be role models for their students, but as soon as a students information goes viral then they are responsible for it. The person viewing it on the other end does not always know who published the material so it is always important not to get caught with your finger in your nose... you never know who might see it!


Students need to know to secure their information on the internet in order to keep their ideas protected from individuals who aim to corrupt them. Hackers and identity thefts are lurking the digital shadows looking for an opportunity to cause harm for gain or pleasure. Passwords, safe-blocks and fire walls are all important, yet too much security will deter others from potentially using that information.


Safety in digital citizenship is twofold. First, students need to know how to use the technology properly so they don't do any physical harm to themselves, become over exposed, or mentally harm themselves by the material they are accessing. The second part is that students need to neither harm other through digital platforms and need to know the ways in which they can stick up for themselves in responsible ways. Cyber-bullying is a hot topic in education right now and it is only going to become more prevelant if concsious actions are not taken by educators, teachers and parents alike.



Rights: Accessed through Google Images

Education: Accessed through Van Allen Photography,

Communication: Accessed through The Telecommunications History Group,

Access: Accessed through The Manitoba Museum,

Etiquette: Accessed through Google Images

Security: Accessed through Al Golub Photography,

Safety: Accessed through Google Images


Ribble, M., Bailey, G. & Ross, T. (2004). Digital Citizenship: Addressing appropriate technology behaviour. Retrieved from: docs/tech340_bailey.pdf?cc=tlredir

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