World Wide Web Digital Citizenship
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How to Teach the 9 Themes of Digital Citizenship [Infographic]

What is digital citizenship?

Digital citizenship refers to how we conduct ourselves on the web. Teachers, parents, and leaders in technology help students to understand what it means to use technology in an appropriate and responsible way. With the advent of social media, this issue is becoming increasingly important, especially for today’s youth.

The Rise of Social Media

Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, digital citizenship wasn’t something that I, my parents, or my teachers really thought about. It was hardly an issue during a time where most of our research papers were written from library books. In fact, instant messaging with AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) didn’t break onto the scene until the late 90s.

But with the creation of Facebook and Myspace in the early 2000s, we began to consider the issue more seriously. Now, people and businesses all over the world have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.

Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship

Today, it’s important for students to understand the principles of being a good digital citizen, not only while they’re in school, but also as they move on to college or careers. DigitalCitizenship.net describes the “norms” of technology usage, or digital citizenship, by defining it in terms of nine themes:

Digital Access – The rights certain individuals have to use and access the Internet. While in the US we enjoy digital freedom, not all countries have the same level of uncensored access.Digital Commerce – The buying and selling of goods online. Today, it is possible to buy almost anything online and have it delivered right to your front door.

Digital Communication – The way we communicate and exchange information with others via the Internet. We can do this through social media sites, e-mail, or even blogging.

Digital Literacy – The use of technology and the teaching of the proper ways to use technology today. Many schools across the US have already begun offering digital literacy courses, and some states have even made online learning a graduation requirement.

Digital Etiquette – How we conduct ourselves on the Internet. This is becoming increasingly important as efforts to end cyber bullying have ramped up in recent years and as employers have begun to take a more vested interest in the online activities of current and potential employees.

Digital Law – A fairly new field that relates to etiquette and applies societal laws to the web. Issues that have been prominent concerns in digital law include hacking, identity theft, and plagiarism or theft of intellectual property.

Digital Rights and Responsibilities – Just as we have rights in American society, we also have rights in digital society, which include things like freedom of speech and freedom of the press. But what is perhaps more important is knowing how to exercise those rights in a responsible manner that is respectful of others.

Digital Health and Wellness – The maintenance of physical and emotional well-being while operating in a digital space. Today, most people—regardless of their field—spend the majority of their day in front of a computer screen. They don’t always associate this with health ailments, which is why it’s important to understand the possible physiological or psychological side effects that could result.

Digital Security (self-protection) – The measures taken to ensure interactions on the Web are safe. While in a perfect world, everyone would adhere to digital law; in reality, this is just not the case. Each time we access the Internet, we expose ourselves to hackers and potential thieves who are out to steal information that could be financially damaging. So, we must protect ourselves by keeping firewalls and antivirus software on our computers and devices.

The 9 Themes of Digital Citizenship (Infographic)

Infographic by Skylar Mowery.


To learn more about digital citizenship and conducting yourself on the web, check out DigitalCitizenship.net. This is a great resource for educators currently teaching digital citizenship.

Or if you’re looking for a way to teach students about digital citizenship school or district-wide, Edgenuity’s course catalog includes Online Learning & Digital Citizenship as a one-semester general elective. See their courses and curriculum to learn more.

About the Author

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Haylee Massaro

Haylee joined Edgenuity in 2012 and currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended the University of Pittsburgh where she studied English Literature, and then went on to receive her M.S.Ed. from Duquesne University. Haylee has been teaching for four years in which time she has gained experience as a teacher in a brick-and-mortar classroom as well as online.