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How to Sharpen Your Students' Digital Citizenship Skills

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Teachers have a significant role in teaching students' digital citizenship skills that will extend beyond the classroom. Digital citizenship is using technology responsibly and ethically. As students use digital tools regularly, they need to understand the importance of using digital content appropriately.

Therefore, teachers need to implement lessons on digital citizenship into the classroom. Digital citizenship skills should be taught beginning in elementary school with these skills growing and sharpening as students move towards high school and college. In this article, we will focus on explaining three goals to help students become mindful digital citizens.

Teach Students to Recognize Their Digital Footprints

One of the most important things to teach students is the concept of a digital footprint. Students need to understand that whatever they put online will stay there; therefore, they must be mindful about 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 own digital footprint can also help to support digital literacy."

Explain the Importance of Giving Credit

With the culture of online sharing, plagiarism is now running rampant. Students 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.

Strengthen Their Information Literacy Skills

With statistics showing students struggle to differentiate between real news and fake news online, it is important for teachers to work on improving students' 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.

How did we do? What are some additional ways that we can help students become digital citizens?

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