Report: Digital Citizenship Should be a Key Component of Classroom Technology Initiatives

Effective classroom technology initiatives should include instruction on digital citizenship, according to a new white paper from NetRef, a provider of Internet management tools.

The paper, "Digital Natives: Citizens of a Changing World," addresses the critical importance of ensuring that students understand the consequences of using technology, particularly social media, as well as best practices for protecting themselves online. While education initiatives place increasing emphasis on digital fluency, students must also be taught to practice good digital citizenship.

According to the white paper, teaching students to be good digital citizens requires curricula, practices and policies that promote safe and responsible use of the Internet and personal technology. Students need to be taught about the permanence of their digital footprint and how it could affect their future education and employment prospects. They also need to be taught how to protect their privacy online and how to protect themselves from cyberbullying.

"The indelibility of a digital footprint has implications unprecedented in society, particularly for youth," said George Dotterer, co-author of the white paper, in a news release. "Giving children the tools and ethical code to make good choices is vital. Teaching digital citizenship in school and at home keeps them and their futures safer."

The white paper offers seven recommendations for schools implementing digital citizenship education:

  • Design a robust digital citizenship curriculum;
  • Counsel students that "what goes online stays online";
  • Craft an empowering acceptable use policy for students;
  • Teach students their digital rights;
  • Advise parents of new social media and online trends;
  • Provide an easy-to-understand guide for online behavior; and
  • Equip teachers and parents with education technology programs and practices to manage children's Internet use.

This is NetRef's fifth in a series of white papers about the effect and challenges of technology in schools. The full paper, "Digital Natives: Citizens of a Changing World," can be found on NetRef's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at

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