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© CyberWise 2012



Digital Citizenship

How To Use This Guide This guide accompanies the CyberWise Guide to Digital Citizenship (which hopefully you just watched). If you are reading this guide online then simply click the links within to access the material they reference. You can also print this guide in order to have a hard copy on hand. Either way, we hope you find the information within useful. Enjoy!


What is Digital Citizenship? If you’ve watched the Cyberwise Guide to Digital Citizenship video, then you already know that Digital Citizenship prepares young people to use digital media safely, confidently and wisely. It is the essential first step to Media Literacy. Fortunately there are loads of free, online resources available to help teachers, parents, and other grownups incorporate Digital Citizenship lessons into the classroom, after-school program, parent group, or home.

Their lesson activities range from low-tech options, such as discussion and paper-based worksheets, to media-rich videos and online activities. Their materials can be used in informal learning environments, such as afterschool programs and community centers, libraries, and museums. Also

Because finding and figuring out these resources takes time (and who’s got that?) we’ve done it for you!

Where to Start? You can’t go wrong starting with any of the many free, ready-to-use materials available online. Here are some of our favorites:

1) Common Sense Media: Probably the best media and technology resources come from Common Sense Media. While their website is most commonly known for its reviews and advice on movies, television, games, videos, apps, websites and more (an indispensable resource for parents), they also offer a turnkey Digital Literacy and Citizenship Classroom Curriculum.

included are end-of-lesson questions and guidelines that offer authentic assessment opportunities to monitor students’ progress, as well as assessment questions at each lesson level. There are even terrific resources for adults.



Where to Start? (continued) Common Sense Media really is the gold standard for Digital Citizenship resources. We’ve used this curriculum in the classroom ourselves (read about it in our CyberCivics blog) and found it to be easy-to-use, fun, and effective.

Through role-playing activities and reflective exercises, students are asked to consider the ethical responsibilities of other people, and whether and how they behave ethically online themselves. These questions are raised in relation to the five core ethical issues identified through the GoodPlay Project research. All curricular units and lessons are free and available for download here.

The Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Curriculum is organized into five units that align with five ethical issues identified by Dr. Howard Gardner and his team at the Harvard School of Education GoodPlay project (read about it on page 7).

2) Our Space: Being a Responsible Citizen of the Digital World Our Space is a set of curricular materials designed for high school students from Project New Media Literacies (established at MIT and now housed at University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism). Like the Common Sense Media materials, these were born from the ethical thinking research from The GoodPlay Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.



Where to Start? (continued)

3. iKeepSafe 

 iKeepSafe is another great place to turn for resources that help young people become “responsible, ethical digital citizens with healthy online relationships.” They’ve created a number of programs for educators, parents, and community groups such as the Google Digital Liter
 acy Tour.

Together with Google, iKeepSafe has developed this curriculum that educators can use in the classroom. It’s designed to be interactive, discussion-filled and to allow students to learn through hands-on

and scenario activities. Each workshop includes a resource booklet for both educators and students that can be downloaded in PDF form, presentations to accompany the lesson and animated videos to help frame the conversation. Their site also contains a wealth of information on how to keep kids safe online.

4. Digital Citizenship and Creative Content Digital Citizenship and Creative Content is a free instructional program developed to create awareness of intellectual property rights and foster a better understanding of the rights connected with creative content. Although designed for grades 8-10, it easily adapts for use in grades 6-12.



Where to Start? (continued)

This program is organized into thematic units that span the following subject areas: Civics, Computer Science, Debate, Economics, Fine Arts, Government, Journalism, Language Arts, Drama, and Video Production. Those from outside the U.S. may need to modify the materials slightly Users can also help us produce materials appropriate for their country by filling out their survey form.

5. Netsafe myLPG LGP stands for Learn/Guide/Protect. It is a framework that supports schools in creating a culture of responsible, safe use of digital technologies. LGP, from New Zealand, promotes a student-centered approach to teaching and learning about cybersafety and digital citizenship across the curriculum. At first we found this resource a bit confusing, but after looking at it more carefully we realized that it is a wealth of resources. In Kiwispeak a “bit” stands for a bit of curriculum. For example, say you were looking for a specific lesson on a particular topic, like “reputation management”, you would simply type in those keywords to find a lesson on that topic. This site is as a central hub of content, suggestions and ideas for building an effective school-based digital citizenship education program. A lively teacher community provides the content by contributing links, comments, suggestions, and ideas to



Wait There’s More! Digital Community, Digital Citizen

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The proceeding pages represent just the tip of the iceberg as far as Digital Citizenship online resources go. Check out the CyberWise Top Ten Digital Citizenship Resources on our website if you’d like to access all ten of our top finds.

One of the best resources for a broad overview of Digital Citizenship is the book Digital Community, Digital Citizen (Ohler, 2010). It is one of the few sources we’ve found that places Digital Citizenship within the historical context of “citizenship.” The book also describes several activities that allow students to become “detech-tives.” This helps them to see (and hopefully, to question) technology’s impact on our culture. Finally, it encourages educators to take a “whole school approach to behavior that sets the entirety of being digitally active within an overall ethical and behavioral context” (p. 145). Great idea.

Ohler also offers a wiki with terrific links to everything you care to know about Digital Citizenship:



The Research If you plan on using materials from Common Sense Media or Project New Media Literacies, you may want to read the research behind the curriculum. Heck, you should just read the research anyway!

Young People, Ethics, and the New Digital Media: A Synthesis from the Good Play Project This report, part of the GoodPlay Project, undertaken by researchers led by Dr. Howard Gardner at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero, investigates the ethical fault lines of young people’s digital pursuits. The authors argue that five key issues are at stake in new media: identity, privacy, ownership and authorship, credibility, and participation. Drawing on evidence from informant interviews, emerging scholarship on new media, and theoretical insights from psychology, sociology, political science, and cultural studies, the report explores the ways in which youth may be redefining these concepts as they engage with new digital media. The authors propose a model of “good play” that involves the unique affordances of the new digital media; related technical and new media literacies;

cognitive and moral development and values; online and offline peer culture; and ethical supports, including the absence or presence of adult mentors and relevant educational curricula.

Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century The white paper Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (Jenkins et al., 2006) identifies the kinds of participatory practices youth are engaged in today, and draws up a provisionary list of the skills these practices demonstrate. In this paper, Dr. Henry Jenkins, formerly Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now Provost Professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, explores new frameworks and models for media literacy. It is a seminal work and particularly important to read if you want to truly understand media literacy in the 21st century.



Why Digital Citizenship Should Matter to Grownups There’s also the issue of privacy. While most adults would advise their children not to share personal identifying information online, like addresses or birth dates, they themselves often readily post graduation, birthday, wedding, and other event photos that contain identifying information. All of this becomes part of our children’s “digital footprint” and once it’s posted, we lose control over how or where this information is used. As fun as it is to share pictures online, we should consider the other people in the photo, especially our children. Posting pictures of yourself is one thing, but when you include others, you should always stop and ask yourself this question first, “Am I being a good digital role model?” Now more than ever, young people need adults they can look up to as “digital role models.” Unfortunately, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center study called “Reputation Management and Social Media,” adults are actually the ones who share information online most freely, even more so than younger users. Why is this a concern? Well, besides embarrassing our kids with those online family albums, it can be a safety risk. Just think about all of those Facebook “friends” (and, possibly, their “friends”) looking at photos of your family frolicking on the beach in Maui while your house sits alone and empty.

Reputation Management and Social Media [Pew Study] Parents: Are Your Online Posts Too Revealing? Teaching and Modeling Good Digital Citizenship Digital Citizenship: Boy Are We Bad At This... Ten Things You Should Never Post on Facebook How Parents Normalized Teens Password Sharing



CyberWise Guide to Digital Citizenship Video Transcript So what is Digital Citizenship? Well, we believe it is the essential first step to becoming media literate in the 21st century. Just like Driver’s Education prepares kids to get behind the wheel of a car, Digital Citizenship prepares them to navigate the information super highway confidently and safely. And this is important, because the media environment are kids are growing up in is new and different from anything any of us has ever experienced before. With the rules of road being written literally as we speak. And while membership to the global digital community offers tremendous opportunity. It is also fraught with possible peril. Underscoring the necessity of digital literacy for students and their parents. Many experts agree that the road to digital literacy starts here. Dr. Jason Ohler believes that we all need “to develop an ethical core that can guide us in this unfamiliar territory.” Author Daniel

Prensky writes that “installing ethical behavior ought to be our number one concern. “And even the U.S. Dept of Education states that students “must be active, creative, knowledgeable and ethical participants of this networked society.” But here’s the problem… Few young people actually engage in ethical thinking when they’re online. In fact, according Dr. Henry Jenkins, what we have is an ethics challenge. Fortunately, researchers at Harvard led by this man have been doing a lot of thinking about ethical thinking… [video] These five ethical issues create the framework to a digital citizenship curriculum offered online, for free, by Common Sense Media. To address the ethical issue of Participation, for example, they’ve designed a unit called Digital Life. Their free resources include short, entertaining videos like this one. As well as materials like these for students, with corresponding materials for adults, so that we can at least sound like we know what we are talking about.



In a unit on Privacy, for example, Common Sense offers activities like this one where students learn about the impact of their digital footprint by imagining the virtual impression they hope to make on the world in ten years. There are also several role-playing games like “Choose a Host,” which was adapted for a sixth grade class who thought they were hiring an employee to work on their class fundraiser. This exercise helps students understand how online misrepresentations can have significant impacts. Michele, Clikr

One of the reasons teaching Digital Citizenship is so important is that it helps students think through ethical dilemmas that happen online, every day, in a safe, offline environment. For example in this game called “Chart It” students hear a variety of stories that actually happen online. Then they are asked to think about the level of harm and intentionality posed in each scenario, by physically taking a place on a chart like this that indicates how they view the perpetrator’s intentions in each story.

Digital Citizenship helps students to think about their online identities. Playing a game like “3 Facts, 1 Fiction,” for example, helps them understand how much easier it is to exaggerate, make up or change their identity online because they are not interacting face to face. This game helps young people understand that not everyone presents him or herself online the way they do in person. Interviewing one another and designing offline “FakeBook” profiles allows students to learn and practice what information is safe and appropriate to share online, hopefully preventing irreversible and harmful mistakes commonly made when we first start using social media. In addition to a wealth of free, online resources like these, you can also learn about Digital Citizenship the old fashioned way, by reading a book. This is one of the best to give you a broad understanding of Digital Citizenship. It also offers a range of activities that help young people really understand technology’s impact on our culture. Like learning how to read and write, learning Digital Citizenship prepares students to fully participate in the digital world that’s here to stay. So rather than shielding students from an environment that offers so many opportunities for learning, let’s prepare them. Because the best Internet filter in the world is the one right between their ears.

Students are also taught skills to deal with potential incidents of cyberbullying.



References Common Sense Media (n.d.). Common sense media education programs. Retrieved from

Video Music Credits

Edutopia (n.d.). Big thinkers: Howard Gardner on digital youth. Retrieved from

“Gaslamp Funworks� By: Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech, Video Photo Credits:

James, C. (2009). Young people, ethics, and the new digital media: A synthesis from the GoodPlay project. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Driver in Green Shirt. By jgrebedw (attribution license)

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., & Robinson, A. J. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the21st Century. Retrieved from

Boy texting. By dmjarvey (attribution license)

Ohler, J.B. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching digital natives: Partnering for real learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. 5cb745a220d5b5c1b2f&npos=27 Girl texting. By GoodNCrazy (attribution license)

Girl holding drivers license. By: au_tiger01 (attribution license) Blank Chalkboard. By "D Sharon Pruitt" (attribution license)

U.S. Department of Education. (2010). Transforming American education: learning powered by technology. Retrieved from

Node. By: Marc_Smith (attribution license)

Lock Credit: Flickr: Husky


Thanks for reading! Here are some ways you can “Be CyberWise.” Visit our Website: or follow us on Twitter: @becyberwise Be sure to check out and subscribe to our free publications: The CyberWise Daily A daily paper full of trends and topics related to media literacy, digital citizenship, education and the responsible integration of technology into the classroom delivered to your email every day. The CyberWise Newsletter A bi-weekly newsletter that keeps you up to speed on our new videos, guides, and other resources.

©2012 CyberWise, LLC xii

CyberWise Guide to Digital Citizenship  

A simple guide to help grownups understand why digital citizenship is the first step towards media literacy. Accompanies the CyberWise Guide...