Digital Citizenship: A Key Element in Modern-Day Education
Digital Citizenship

Today’s modern world is virtually connected where all of us can stay in touch no matter how long the distance is. People can communicate with each other from one corner of the world to another in a matter of seconds. Major business deals are carried out in a jiffy thanks to fast networks and reliable connectivity. The education sector also isn’t far behind in accepting these modern technologies.

Nowadays, both teachers and students are embracing digital technology. The education system has received a major facelift thanks to innovative digital educational tools. Owing to these innovations, students can browse the internet and gather additional information about various subjects as and when required. They have an ocean of resources at their disposal which they can use for studies and research. But, as the saying goes, ‘With great power comes great responsibilities’, it is essential for students to use this technological boon judiciously.

The Importance of Digital Citizenship

Teachers realize how important it is to instill good citizenship among students. They always focus on social etiquette and how to treat the peers with respect. In this modern age, it is also requisite for the students to understand what kind of behavior is acceptable in an online platform. Teachers have to instill the principles of good digital citizenship among the students so that they become smart, responsible, and respectful members of online communities.

Understanding Digital Citizenship

All of us are a part of one virtual community or another. We often share information and opinions about various issues on websites, blogs, and other online platforms. As individuals, following certain norms and rules defines us as good citizens of the society. Similarly, while communicating online, people should practice online safety, treat other digital users with respect, and behave as per the rules of certain online communities.

In the years to come, the importance of practicing good digital citizenship will gradually increase. Our lives are constantly getting entwined with virtual communities. Students are using numerous online tools to enhance the learning process like participating in online forums, joining online learning groups, and so on. Hence, teaching students how to practice good online citizenship is becoming increasingly important.

If students do not follow tenets of good digital citizenship, they may develop poor, and even dangerous, online habits. Sometimes students may share too much personal information online. Moreover, poor digital citizenship may lead to cyber bullying, wherein students may harass each other using technologies like social media, texts, and e-mails. Although cyber bullying does not cause physical harm, but can cause emotional and psychological damage.

Embracing Digital Literacy

Teachers and parents should make sure that students are well aware of how to competently navigate and evaluate information in the digital sphere. Students should be equipped with strong digital literacy skills which would help them to distinguish between legitimate news and misleading information. Individuals with poor skills of using digital media may feel lost while using the internet. Research states that 59% of users feel overwhelmed by the internet. Poor digital citizenship and literacy may lead students to browse unsafe website, lose important data, or even fall prey to cyber-attacks or bullying. Hence, it is very important that students are aware of the pros and cons of digital media so that they can use it judiciously for better outcomes.

Encouraging Good Digital Citizenship is of Prime Concern

School authorities can employ various creative strategies to cultivate a sense of responsibility among students. Teachers should constantly remind students to be very careful about what information they are sharing or what opinions they are making in public. If teachers share an etiquette guide for online behavior with the students, it will help them to act responsibly on the internet. Students should be taught that there can be many strangers browsing the internet who can cause them harm. Hence, one should only communicate with known people on the internet.

It is very important that teachers explain the difference of sharing and stealing online content. Students may feel that everything that is available on the internet is up for grabs. But they should know that almost all online content is protected by intellectual property laws, and hence they should act cautiously. Students should be taught not to engage in conversations which might be controversial. Teachers should teach them how to identify and avoid a ‘troll’.

Digital literacy is an essential component in today’s age, but students should be taught that these are just a part of modern life. They should also spend quality time with their family and friends. Teachers can also conduct interesting and fun-filled sessions to educate students about how to use digital media responsibly and how to treat other digital citizens with respect.

Laying Foundation for a Bright Future

If parents and teachers work together as a team, and teach students the right digital citizenship skills, it can build a road to their bright future. Adopting good online practices is important for every student because if they don’t do so, they may struggle with online assignments, and may even face difficulty in securing a job. Nowadays, most professions revolve around technology, and instilling good digital citizenship can contribute in students’ success both inside and outside the classroom.

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