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Is it time to double down on digital citizenship training?

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About a week ago, my 5-year-old daughter asked me a question I wasn’t quite ready for. As we walked home from a nearby park, she asked, “Dad, when can I get a cell phone?”

She went on to explain how a cell phone would benefit her life. She even assured me that she was not too young for a cell phone. In fact, other children her age already had one! Although it was hard to say no to her cute little face, I explained that she would have to wait a few more years to take on that kind of responsibility. But why?

My daughter’s question really got me thinking. With so many young people having greater access to technology, isn’t it time for schools digital citizenship train more seriously?

What is digital citizenship?

Before we dive into why digital citizenship is important, let’s start by discussing what it is. In a nutshell, digital citizenship is the safe and responsible practice of using digital technologies. All people who interact with digital technology are digital citizens, however, responsible digital citizens are those who understand the potential risks and issues that may arise when using technology (LillyWhite, 2021). Responsible digital citizens want to use technology respectfully, safely and productively. Digital citizenship has been divided into nine key areas which include: digital access, digital etiquette, digital law, digital communication, digital literacy, digital commerce, digital rights and responsibilities, digital safety and security, and digital health and well-being (Ribble, 2021 ). ).

Why is digital citizenship important?

Thanks to the growth and availability of digital technology, more young people than ever have access to it. As recently as 2019, one study found that 98.1 percent of US children between the ages of 3 and 18 lived in a household with a computer or smartphone (Reiser-Kasicki, 2022). Additionally, more school districts are moving toward 1:1 and BYOD initiatives because of a collective desire to help students get 21str century skills needed to succeed in the digital age (Stauffer, 2022).

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