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Phase1 Activity 1.1 The 5 Principles of Citizenship

What is Digital Citizenship? 

We answer this question with a simple video for middle schools student

Play Video

teach your children about digital citizenship…

(excerpted from “Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationships for Technology”) 

Every kid today will use technology to connect with others in all kinds of new ways, becoming a “citizen” of online communities you may or may not know about. Understanding how to be a good community member offline is fairly easy—the real world is governed by rules, laws, and norms established over time—but that’s not the case online. Many online communities lack rules, laws, and norms, and if there are any, they are sometimes hard for kids to figure out (think of age restrictions buried in the “terms of use” for most games or social media sites). Plus, who cares when online rules are broken?

That’s why it’s important to introduce young people to the five “themes of citizenship.” Tell them that every good citizen—online and offline— should demonstrate the following traits:

  • Honesty. Be truthful and fair. Good citizens must be honest with others, and with themselves. 
  • Compassion. Show care for people and reverence for living things. Compassion gives citizens an emotional bond with their world
  • Respect. Show regard or consideration for others, and even toward inanimate things or ideas. Good citizens should have respect for laws and reverence for all living things.
  • Responsibility. Be answerable and accountable. Citizens should recognize that their actions have an effect, either positive or negative, upon others. 
  • Courage. Do the right thing even when it’s unpopular, difficult, or dangerous. Many people throughout history—including Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and Mahatma Gandhi—have demonstrated great courage.

Then, do the following: 

  • Tell your children that in the offline world the traits above are generally expected of good citizens. They are norms that civilizations have established over time.
  • Talk to your children about all the offline communities they belong to: sports teams, classroom, city, state, country, even family. Ask them to tell you how they might demonstrate these citizenship principles in one of these communities. Be sure to discuss what it would be like if these communities did not follow these principles (for example, ask them to imagine what it would be like to play soccer without rules or a referee!). 
  • Talk to your children about the online communities they, or you, belong to—a social media network or a gaming community, for example. Ask them how the citizenship principles might be demonstrated in one of these communities. Be sure to ask them to tell you what it would be like if these communities did not (or do not) follow these same principles.
 
 “Teaching Good Citizenship’s Five Themes,” Education World (n.d.)  Retrieved on November 2, 2017.

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