Three models

As a teacher and a Mom, I was pleased to find most articles I pulled up about digital citizenship dealt with teaching K-12 digital citizenship to students. So, for this assignment, I will focus on three models of digital citizenship for teachers. This first article alone had so much in it and could have been a project or two in itself. It outlines five ways that teachers can model digital citizenship for students, and was a great jumping off point for me to learn new terms, gather ideas and springboard into more research:

Let’s talk about digital citizenship in terms of cyber security. In reading number 4 in “Model and explain digital security,” I came across a term I’d never heard before: Geotagging. Basically, geotagging is making your location public to everyone….scary! I have known people whose children posted on facebook that their family was going on vacation and then were robbed. This is basic to teach to our students; they need to know that anything they post (including pictures!) can be seen by ANYONE and can be out there on the web FOREVER. For more on location safety, see this article…

Wow. I had no idea that my teenager’s cell phones might contain geotagging on their pictures. I feel pretty strongly about tip #8 from the above site:

Tip #8: Don’t Geotag photos including children

“I think it is a  poor idea to geotag photos including children. It is our job to protect them.
What does this mean for photos taken at events that your school hosts? Has this been disclosed to parents? How can we educate about this?” (Cool cat teacher blog).

The author of that article pretty much sums up the main idea with her title, “Privacy is a gift we give ourselves.”

This first model of digital citizenship from also focused on the importance of teaching about cyberbullying, and that I think is so important given the large amount of violence in our schools today. Here is a great article on cyber bullying:

And, did you know that 23 states now have laws against cyberbullying?

When I think of cyberbullying, at first I think of computer instant messaging (uh oh…here’s a clue about how young I am not), but today cyberbullying seems to be most prevalent on cellphones and can include invasions of privacy such as inappropriate photo sharing, etc. And here’s another new term I learned: sextortion.

Sextortion is just what it sounds like: extortion in the form of sex, mostly in the cyberbullying world, that means blackmail by using inappropriate photos. Here is a great resource with lots of statistics on cyberbullying.

I could dive into a black hole with cyberbullying research, so let’s examine a second model of digital citizenship:

Let me just insert here that the approach I am most familiar with is limiting the amount of time my teenagers spend online…haha. And, digital footprint? I realize this is a real thing, but I’m laughing at the term. Common Sense Education (I believe this is also the model Alaska schools use) has a different approach to digital citizenship. Their website is found here:

They have an award winning platform, free lessons subdivided by grade level, and interactive games – something all kids love. They are also backed by actual research (Project Zero.)

If you take a look at this video, you will see that the Common sense platform also places an emphasis on education about cyberbullying, but also places an emphasis on media literacy, which is essentially determining the value of media messages.

The video below provides 5 questions for media literacy, to determine the value of the media message:

Who created this message?
What creative means were used to capture my attention?
Why is this message being sent?

Ok, on to the last model of digital citizenship:

In addition to cyberbullying, edutopia also discusses netiquette, and copyright issues.

Here is a video on netiquette intended for upper elementary students:

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the above website:

Digital Citizenship or Just Citizens?

“There are people, like expert Anne Collier, who think we should drop the word digital in contexts like this one because we’re really just teaching citizenship—these are the skills and knowledge that students need to navigate the world today. We must teach these skills and guide students to experience situations where they apply knowledge.” (

Great point! I also think it makes sense to teach digital citizenship in a systematic, ordered way.

  • 1. Teach privacy, passwords and how to use media
  • 2. Teach netiquette, which if you think about it, short circuits cyberbullying. If we could all just be nice to each other….
  • 3. Cyberbullying prevention
  • Media literacy – teach students how to decode all of the media they are bombarded with.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi Liz,

    I really enjoyed your post. I agree with you in saying that it is sometimes a scary world in terms of geotagging. I think that students need to be aware that anything posted online could be accessed by other people. I also liked your ending point when you said that we are mainly teaching students how to be good citizens but in a digital context.

    Great job!

  2. Hi Liz,
    I use the Cyberbuylling article in my constitutional law course. I think one thing many misunderstand is that the government must have a compelling interest in order to meet the test to prohibit free speech. Most speech, even in its most offensive form, is protected under the First Amendment. The exception is speech that incites violence (“fighting words”) or represents imminent harm (shouting ‘Fire!’ in a crowd). I understand that educators and policy-makers have an interest in protecting minors from harm caused by cyberbulling. As a parent, I would want to protect my kids from that also. But I’m not sure criminalizing free speech is the way to do it. Maybe better digital citizenship instruction is the answer?

    1. I agree. It makes more sense to guide than to create laws and rules. I think that approach garners a better response from most people too. Thanks for that thought!

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