Written by Jenny Windom, Faria Education Group

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In this first part of our two-part series about digital citizenship, we define digital citizenship and examine how teaching media literacy can go a long way in helping students be safe and engaged digital participants.

Developing media and social literacy in our students will prepare them to be responsible participants and citizens in the digital world.

What is Digital Citizenship?

Entire books and websites have been dedicated to this topic, and we’ll only be scratching the surface. Check out some additional resources at the end of this post!

Digital citizenship refers to the norms of responsible and appropriate behavior in regards to technology use. This can include developing technical prowess to adjust privacy settings in a variety of applications or honing “soft” skills like recognizing online social cues and interacting safely with others online.

Consider the age and level of your students when deciding online topics to address. Younger students don’t need to know how photos are geo-cached, but they should know to not share passwords and personal information.

Digital citizenship encompasses far more than “netiquette”. The standards of conduct when crediting someone or displaying copyright, the awareness of technological access (or lack thereof), and the ability to reflect on technology’s effects on physical and psychological health—among many other topics—are also facets of digital citizenship. Continue to research beyond this post to discover different avenues to take while teaching students digital citizenship!

(Digital) Media Literacy

Media literacy is the ability to engage in, think critically about, and create media. Media can take the form of magazines, television, movies, books, games…and, yes, the internet. In addition to understanding how media shapes our perception of the world, students who have a solid foundation in media literacy can read between the lines with information they’re presented and identify how they can generate their own messages and responses to what they see.

From a media literacy standpoint, there are a lot of topics students—and teachers—should consider. As they draw information from the web, students should understand Creative Commons and the role of copyright. Students should also comprehend that a wealth of identifying information can be drawn from the images and words they post. And, when sharing, students need to recognize whether information is appropriate or not. These topics—and more—are all components of digital media literacy. Digital media literacy explores how to engage with, think critically about, and successfully navigate digital media in addition to the other media we already utilize.

Questions to Consider

Do you have additional ideas to help critically engage students with digital media? Additional resources you’ve found helpful in the classroom that you’d like to share? Send a tweet @atlas_next or find us on Facebook!

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