In today’s world, technology is considered part of a well-rounded education, especially in light of this year’s massive overhaul to distance learning. However, navigating the virtual environment isn’t always easy for students and requires both oversight and digital citizenship skills. When a teenager begins learning how to drive, they aren’t just turned loose in the streets—they learn the appropriate skills and have an adult supervising their every move until they are deemed able to manage a vehicle without supervision.
With 95% of our middle and high school population using the internet, school districts are realizing it’s important to not only create policies and teach them how to be good digital citizens, but also to monitor students’ online behaviors. It’s important for students to fully understand the proper ways to interact on social media and in other online environments, and the standards created by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) are a great place to get students started. These standards, which have been adopted in all 50 states, outline appropriate interactions with technology and incorporate digital citizenship as a core competency.
Along with teaching students how to act appropriately online, a 2019 report from the Cyberbullying Research Center suggests that prioritizing digital citizenship is also an important step for schools to help prevent cyberbullying. By helping students fully understand their interactions online and what it means to be a responsible digital citizen, school leaders may be able to curb behaviors that lead to cyberbullying. When paired with technology that reviews and analyzes students’ use of school-issued devices, school districts can gain a greater awareness of how students interact in the digital world and put a stop to any problematic behavior—before it’s too late.
Incorporating digital citizenship into the curriculum can have a major impact on students’ lives, both during and after their time in school. These skills will help students become better stewards of internet resources, creating a positive digital footprint that will follow them into adulthood.