Digital Citizen

8 Ways to Be a Good Digital Citizen

by Kayla Hammons, GoGuardian
As our lives become more digital and students spend more time online, the best way to keep kids safe online is by teaching them to be proactive about their own online privacy and digital footprint. Just as we teach students about expected campus and classroom behavior, guidelines for being a good digital citizen are instrumental in shaping the way kids use the internet to learn and interact with others.

Busy parents and teachers are aware of the responsibilities brought about by giving students access to the internet, so we’ve made it simple to incorporate a digital learning guideline into your classroom or home. Below are the core Digital Do’s and Don’ts that will help students learn proper etiquette for any online community and be good digital citizens.

4 Big Do’s to Becoming a Good Digital Citizen

Help kids understand that any information put online is out there for the entire world to see, forever. It’s hard for them to understand that deleting a file from their devices or online profiles doesn’t actually remove it permanently. Before posting anything online, students should ask themselves whether they’d be comfortable sharing the post and picture with their entire class. This helps students understand the reach and consequences of their posts in terms they can directly and immediately relate to.
1. Follow the Golden Rule: It’s easy to forget that there’s someone on the other side of a computer screen, especially in online contexts that preserve anonymity. Growing up most individuals probably heard to treat others the way that they would like to be treated, and this is known as the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule also applies to digital citizenship. It is easy to respond negatively online, but students should think about the other person before responding.
2. Protect Sensitive Information: Information in the world is not as secure as it used to be, and unsavory people are trying to steal the credit card numbers of unsuspecting victims strolling down the street. So, it’s important that online safety should be a focal point taught to students. They should be careful with any sensitive information, and data should be entered from a secure location. Also, remember if anyone is asking online for their password students should be directed to never share this information. Those seeking passwords should be reported on whatever platform is being used.
3. Know the Rules: Every online platform has rules that users are supposed to follow. These rules are listed under the “FAQ” or “About Us” sections of websites. Make sure that students pay attention to these rules so that community expectations are met. This is key to being a good digital citizen.
4. Report Bad Behavior: If there was an attack happening on the street those standing around wouldn’t think twice about reporting it, and online behavior should be viewed the same way. If anything is seen online that looks harmful, students should be encouraged to speak out about it. Cyber-bullying is at an all-time high and by reporting an issue, someone’s life could be saved.

4 Important Don’ts for Being a Good Digital Citizen

1. Don’t Forget the Human Aspect: When participating in an online community it can feel like there is a significant amount of space between users. However, instead of embracing the distance, students should act as though they are speaking directly to someone to avoid conflict. People can research all elements of an individual’s life online, and in doing so can find information to jeopardize the lives of others. Students should just take a deep breath before replying to any offhanded comments, and they’re sure to minimize potential online conflicts.
2. Don’t Steal Content: There is nothing more frustrating for creators than seeing their content posted on other people’s pages without permission. To be a good digital citizen, students should be sure to always give credit to the original poster if they decide to share something that isn’t owned by them. Those posting stolen content can also be sued, and students avoid this dilemma by giving credit of the original sources to content.
3. Don’t Trust Everything You Read: There is currently a mass population of people that post items without checking if they are factual. Through this posting there is a wildfire effect where the content trends online for all the wrong reasons. Now, a mass of people viewing the post believe the shared content is accurate. Before students share posts, they should check the validity of the content. By fact-checking through Google they will save themselves a ton of time, and will help their fellow online digital citizens.
4. Don’t Forget to Monitor Their OWN Online Activity: Everything posted online is there forever, so students need to edit their own responses. You should also encourage your students to spend time off the computer and out in the real world. Students should make time for outdoor activities where they can unplug and refuel.
How will you use these ways to encourage your students to become good digital citizens? We would love for you to share your feedback with us in the comments below.


Kayla Hammons is a freelance writer contracting with GoGuardian, an education software company providing K-12 schools with digital learning tools. When she is not writing about education, she is penning her first book.