Teaching Digital Citizenship

Mobile phones, tablets, online shopping, social networking, gaming, the Internet. These are only some of the things which people of all ages in the 21st century are exposed to. It is all around us and whether we realise it or not, impacts each and everyone of our lives. Rheingold (2012) explains that the Web is an integral part of our society today and whether we like it or not “Future of the culture depends on how well we learn to use the media”.

As a primary education student I am very interested in how technology and the digital world is impacting on the children of the 21st century. We are living in a world where we have the choice of 250 million websites,150 million blogs and where over 25 billion tweets were sent in 2010 (Miller & Bartlett, 2012). I have therefore decided to focus on the teaching of digital citizenship to children. I have chosen this topic as it is something which I feel is becoming particularly relevant in society and is also very relevant to what I would like to do when I leave university.

In a world where children have access to the Internet it is important that they know how to use it correctly. There are growing concerns that children and young people are vulnerable with a lot of emphasis being placed upon worries over exposure to inappropriate content, inappropriate images, abuse from adults met online and cyber bullying. I believe that the most important reason for children to learn about safety is to allow them to protect themselves from what is online and also to understand the power that is the Internet. Classrooms are beginning to focus on using digital technologies in lessons in order to enable children to become digitally literate and enable them to good digital citizens. The Scottish curriculum, Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) focuses on learning using technology which relates to digital literacy and enables and encourages them to gain an understanding of the role and impact which technology has on society. It also aims to enable the children to make decisions and choices which are appropriate in relation to technology.

Safety is a very important issue that should be taught in schools. Children and young people have to be able to manage their own digital identity and safety however they can’t be expected to know how to do this and it also can’t be assumed that parents or carers will teach their children as they may not know it either. As digital safety is a current issue within the 21st century and does affect people of all ages children should be taught how to be safe online and should be provided with the opportunity to learn how to engage critically with technology and how to use it well. They should also learn the skill of how to question their own and others technology use and receive an education which allows them to make decisions to protect themselves on an ongoing basis.

As a student teacher I feel that these are all very important lessons that everyone should learn. I have never personally been affected by some of the issues which I have discussed such as cyber bullying but I have witnessed what this can do to people and I very strongly believe that people should learn about online safety in order to protect themselves. It is important to learn about the technology in the digital world and how to use it and I feel that teachers could learn a lot from teaching these lessons in their classes much the same way I have from taking this class on the digital economy.

Curriculum for Excellence website: http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/curriculumforexcellence/index.asp

Miller, C., & Bartlett, J. (2012). ‘Digital fluency’: towards young people’s critical use of the internet. Journal of Information Literacy, 6(2), 35– 55.

Rheingold, H. (2012). Introduction: Why You Need Digital Know-How—Why We All Need It. In Net smart: how to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.



  1. eveh1993 · December 8, 2014

    I think this is a really great topic to do your visual essay on. I am sure that you will learn a lot that you will be able to take forward in to schools when you are teaching for yourself.
    I agree that it is important to educate children on thing as such as online safety and think the younger we educate children the less risks they will face and hopefully they will pass their knowledge on to others at home.
    Good luck!


  2. Cristina Costa · December 9, 2014

    this is an appropriate topic and one that you seem really keen on exploring. I like your discussion about the need to teaching about digital safety and its connection to Curriculum for Excellence.
    I am however wondering what your (3) main key points to represent this topic will be and what examples you will use to illustrate them. Also will you quote any part of Curriculum for excellence when making the link with it? i think it could result in a powerful message.
    please feel free to email me for further feedback if you decide to clarify your ideas a bit further with concrete examples before submitting your visual essay


  3. stephanienicoleshields · December 9, 2014

    I like the topic you have chosen for your visual essay, the topic is relevant to yourself and it is very currant in today’s society. I agree that it is important as teachers we have to teach children how to be safe online, we have to educate them about the benefits of being online but also the dangers of using social media sites.

    As we can access practically anything on the internet, I agree with your point about children being exposed to inappropriate content and also the risk of cyber-bullying, therefore it is important that schools take digital media into account when they are teaching children about how to keep themselves safe.

    Another key point for your visual essay could be how much knowledge teachers have about being safe online, to what extent do they know what is happening online such as cyber-bullying, and do teachers need more training in this topic area in order for them to fully teach children the safety features of being digital users.


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