Teaching Digital Citizenship to Various Age Groups
As you begin to find new and exciting ways of teaching digital citizenship, you may end up getting caught up in the possibilities and forget to consider the children’s age group. Each year of school will require a different approach and level of complexity. You have to keep the goals and expectations appropriate for the age you are educating.
In Kindergarten, the focus will be on issues like stranger danger and how to be safe when using the Internet. First and second graders will need to be reminded of safe practices, but you will also need to introduce topics like cyberbullying so they can learn how to treat others online, and how to react when someone is a bully. You will need forums and boards that you can monitor.
As kids reach the age to be able to use Facebook (13 according to the Facebook Terms and Conditions), then you need to introduce concerns about social media and how to behave.
The older the students are, the more challenging it can be because technology frequently targets the older children. Your lessons will need to address the possible problems and resolutions to those problems when new technology and apps appear.
One of the most important things to teach teenagers (13 and above) is the concept of a digital footprint. Students need to understand that whatever they put online will stay there; therefore, they must be mindful of the material they post on social media about themselves or others.
As Common Sense Education explains, “Our digital world is permanent, and with each post, students are building a digital footprint. By encouraging students to self-reflect before they self-reveal, they will consider how what they share online can impact themselves and others. Awareness about one’s digital footprint can also help to support digital literacy.”
With the culture of online sharing, plagiarism is now running rampant. Teenagers also must learn the importance of giving credit to the author or creator of online content. ISTE’s Citizenship in the Digital Age infographic highlights the issue of stealing digital work and explains how good digital citizenship includes recognizing copyright laws and giving credit to the creator.
Students often copy and paste materials or download content without paying because they do not realize this is wrong. By explaining the value of one’s work and how not giving credit is a type of theft, students will gain an understanding of their responsibility to credit their sources.
With statistics showing students struggle to differentiate between real news and fake news online, it is important for teachers to work on teenager’s information literacy skills. Common Sense Education suggests, “Information literacy includes the ability to identify, find, evaluate, and use information effectively.”
Teaching students to evaluate content for reliability is an essential skill they will carry with them outside of the classroom. Teachers should also focus on helping students learn to use the right keywords in their searches, as well as how to recognize credible websites and authors. Information literacy is necessary in a world with rampant online content that is misleading and false.
What tips do you have for teaching digital citizenship to various age groups?