We live in an increasingly digital world. Every day we’re exposed to an onslaught of information from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, not to mention streaming news and entertainment. With the ever-increasing amount of time and energy today’s students spend consuming and producing digital content, it’s critical they develop the skills necessary to navigate this digital world both effectively and safely. Here are a few things you might consider doing to guide your students as digital citizens.

1. Start the conversation: What is a digital citizen? 

Students may not understand the characteristics of a digital citizen. Try having your students brainstorm together ideas. Facilitate the conversation by asking them to share how they use technology. Are they looking up information, blogging, and making comments to their friends’ posts? Have your students describe how they may have felt when a friend commented negatively on a post or comment they made while using a digital platform. Ask them to share their thoughts on what would be an appropriate way to respond to each other, even if they disagree.

2. Have your students answer the question: What am I digitally consuming?

When gathering and preparing research, make sure your students are asking themselves the right questions. For example, they need to know who the intended audience is and what the author’s purpose might be for the article or page they are reading. Is it age-appropriate and suitable for their project? How much personal information is the source asking for to be able to view the information? Is it safe?

3. Teach your students how to critically evaluate online sources.

Students often do not understand that not all of what they “see” on the internet is the “truth, whole truth, and nothing, but the truth!” Make sure they know how to determine whether the information they are gathering is credible or not. Cross-check the evidence that is cited in the article with other sources. And, don’t forget to have them document where the source came from.

4. Educate your students on responsibly produced digital content.

Once content hits the web, the whole world can see. Be sure to educate your students around topics and issues regarding privacy, copyright, cyber-bullying, and internet safety.

To learn detailed strategies to empower and protect your student digital citizens, watch the video below:

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Glenn Gordon

Glenn Gordon

Science Specialist

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.