Digital Citizenship

What makes a good digital citizen? This is the question that I have been pondering for the last week. I haven’t come up with a conclusive answer and so this blog post is late for that reason. I decided that maybe I need to break down the term and work from there. So my new question is, why makes a good citizen?

According to characteristics of a good citizen includes respect for others and their property, being helpful and considerate, listens to the views of others and respects what they have to say (even if those opinions differ), helps those who cannot help themselves, is hardworking, respectful to the environment and is willing to learn.

The question now is, how can I see a citizen with a digital lens?

Photo Credit: Cross Duck Flickr via Compfight cc

I think the first thing we need to think about is respect. As a digital citizen, it is important to have respect for the other human beings we interact with online. Let us be kind to each other when commenting or messaging and let us respect intellectual property. We need to remember that the usernames we interact with are (usually) linked to real people sitting behind the screen. In short, be kind and don’t steal pictures.

The good digital citizen is kind and considerate, doesn’t that sound familiar? Do not be afraid to help your fellow citizen. Answer questions, begin conversations with your fellow people instead of just “liking” their photos. The cool thing about technology is that we can bridge (physical) distances and learn so much from other people around the world (how cool is that?!?)

In addition to engagement, our digital citizen should be respectful towards others, especially when opinions differ (politics, anyone?). In other words, don’t be a troll.


Image taken from here

The digital citizen is respectful towards the environment, and I think I’ve covered that under the basic umbrella of respect.

Being willing to learn is an important characteristic of not just digital citizens, but for everyone. Albert Einstein has be attributed with the quote “once you stop learning then you start dying. Whether or not he actually said that, it is a profound way to think about learning!

“All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.”
George Whitman

We can learn from anyone and we can learn lessons from anything, you just have to know how to look at things.

I know there are more potential characteristics of digital citizenship, but I thought this list was fairly comprehensive. What other characteristics of digital citizenship would you include?


Kindness, Yes

I don’t know if it is the wintertime blues, the political negativity that I’ve been encountering on social media, or if something really is in the air, but I’ve noticed a lot of unkindness lately. I’m not just talking about my personal life and the trolls on social media, but also with my students. It makes me sad. 

Where do I go from here?

Just because I’m “just a sub” does not mean I won’t help my students learn the skill of kindness. Wait, kindness is a skill?  Yes, yes it is. We can all stand to be more kind in our daily interactions and we can all stand for a more positive outlook in our lives. 

Here’s one radical idea: I can teach by example. Since I don’t interact with the students everyday, I cannot implement a program to teach the skill, but I can serve as an example. Like it or not, we are role models and students may base their behaviour based on our actions. Let’s teach them well.