As we start a new academic term, I wanted to challenge you to ask your child what they understand by digital citizenship? What do you understand by it? How important is it in your home? Should you be giving more family time to discussing this topic? How might it be impacting your child’s daily routines and learning?
As more and more students interact digitally–with content, with one another, and with various “other” communities–the concept of digital citizenship becomes increasingly important. Which begs the question: what is digital citizenship?
Well, first citizenship, which is formally defined as “the quality of an individual’s response to membership in a community.” This makes citizenship far more complex than a simple legal matter, but rather one that consists of self-knowledge, interaction, and intimate knowledge of a place, its people, and its cultural history.
So digital citizenship is nearly the same thing – “the quality of a response to membership in a digital community” might be a good first crack at the definition. Revising that definition a little might more clearly articulate the differences between physical and digital communities. Possibly a decent definition of digital citizenship then might be “Self-monitored participation that reflects conscious interdependence with all (visible and less visible) community members.”
But that leaves out the idea of content itself, which leads us to a pretty good definition for educators: “The quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” Still too wordy? Maybe a shorter version for students – with some moral imperatives and implied advice – could be: “The self-monitored habits that sustain and improve the digital communities you enjoy or depend on.”
Whatever definition you derive for digital citizenship, it is a fundamental part of our everyday existence in current times yet we rarely ever, in the family home, consider how it is impacting the family unit. Of course, once you have conquered or explored the notions of digital citizenship you can only then dive into the concept of a digital footprint. This is where it becomes interesting, especially as we are very close to the time when schools will start to review the digital footprints of prospective new enrolments and students to establish if their “behaviour” is suitable to meet the standards expected by their new school. We have for many years had to draft references for children moving to new schools, especially post 16, and have had to include aspects of their behaviour. I now think that it is time to expand this to their online behaviour as well. At THS, as places become more and more in demand, this will soon become a reality. This should definitely be a hot topic for debate in your household. You might want to start with your own digital footprint. Check it out; what message is it giving about you?