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Digital Citizenship for Students

Students must responsibly participate in online activities while respecting the dignity and rights of the people with whom they interact. Socially participating in today’s digital world requires positivity and safety to eliminate cyberbullying and other serious forms of online threats.

Fortunately, there are effective, positive programs that can assist schools and parents in the pursuit to teach digital citizenship to students. Rachel’s Challenge can help cultivate responsible, respectful, positive behavior in students in both the digital world and the real world.

What Is Digital Citizenship?

Digital citizenship for students refers to the ability of children and teens to act in responsible ways when using technology and includes the internet, digital devices, gaming computers, and the like.

It’s vital for students to engage positively and competently in the digital environment, whether that involves research, creativity, cooperation, or social media.

Students must harness the skills and knowledge of effective communication, problem-solving, and even empathy when using technology to digitally interact with others in safe, fulfilling ways.

The importance of digital citizenship for students cannot be overstated. Cyberbullying, online slander, computer hacking, and other threats are serious issues today and unfortunately, these problems have caused young lives to be lost.

The Importance of Digital Citizenship for Students

Digital citizenship is crucial for mitigating the risk factors of online victimization in all its forms. It ensures online safety, digital health, and overall well-being not just for students but for all digital citizens.

Teenagers are engaged in up to seven hours of screen time every day, and young adolescents spend an average of three to seven hours a day on social media.

Researchers predict that the rate of use of digital devices by students could soon reach eight hours per day. This is more time than they spend with their parents, teachers, and classmates.

It has become nearly impossible for parents, teachers, and caregivers to monitor all of the websites students visit and the online relationships they have with others. Although parents and educators hope that those online relationships are healthy and safe, the stark reality is that they can be threatening, dangerous, and destructive.

A majority (59%) of teenagers have experienced some form of cyberbullying or harassment online, with offensive name-calling and false rumor-spreading as the most common offenses. In addition, 63% of teens believe that online harassment is a serious problem.

Although things like rumor-spreading and name-calling have been an unpleasant part of adolescence for a long time, with the proliferation of digital devices and the explosion of social media, the ways that bullying now takes place have changed.

Where once children could seek refuge from harassment and bullying by peers while they were in their homes, in today’s digital world that is no longer the case.

Furthermore, social media promotes social comparison, which is when people compare themselves to others on social media. Comparison-making can be detrimental to an adolescent’s (and adult’s!) self-esteem, sense of self-worth, and self-image.

In recent years, there has been a marked rise in youth mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, disconnection, and loneliness, in addition to bullying and suicides. Tragically, youth suicide increased by more than 62% between 2009 and 2018.

The frightening increase in mental health incidents correlates with digital device usage and social media proliferation.


Teaching Digital Citizenship for Kids

The best means of protecting children when they are online is to teach them the importance of digital citizenship. They must learn to optimize the positive aspects of using technology and safeguard against its dangers. The earlier this instruction begins, the better.

Teaching digital citizenship for students at a young age helps children hone effective communication skills,allows them to practice good form in social participation, and to protect themselves online. It’s crucial to learn early about showing respect for others online, recognizing threats, anddeveloping habits that take advantage of the benefits of the internet while creating resilience to its dangers.

In addition, teaching digital citizenship helps students learn to search for, identify, and choose authentic, trustworthy sources of information online and to avoid those that are likely phishing ploys or sources of malware.

Good digital citizenship at this young age might take the form of positive gossip on social media sites. It might be practiced when a young student recognizes a potential online threat. It could also be the unwillingness of a child to participate in any online harassment or cyberbullying.

Teaching Digital Citizenship for Teens

It’s critical for teens to participate in online activities ethically, safely, and respectfully. Good digital citizenship for students is shown as:

Behaving respectfully toward others
Are able to communicate in productive ways
Protecting their privacy and their reputations

In addition, teens must be able to “watch their tone” online because it’s easy for a person’s intentions, meaning, and feelings to be misconstrued over electronic communication.

The good digital citizen will also be skeptical in general. They won’t hastily or automatically trust every web page, every social interaction, or every person they come across.

Teenagers who are good digital citizens will be able to collaborate with others online in healthy, safe ways as they share experiences and support their peers. When teens are good digital citizens, they feel like they are connected to a large global community. This connection can decrease feelings of loneliness.

This healthy collaboration is critically important because connectedness is the most effective and powerful buffer against teenage suicide.


Approaching Digital Responsibility in Classrooms and Homes

Integrating instruction in digital citizenship in homes and classrooms can be done through books, curriculum, and creating structure around technology and good online conduct.

Programs that promote connectedness, acceptance, safety, and supportiveness in schools are powerful tools for parents and educators who want to teach digital citizenship for students.

Rachel’s Challenge is one such program. In fact, we offer several different programs for students of all ages that empower schools to cultivate safe, empathetic, smart, respectful environments in which students learn to be good digital citizens.

Our programs prevent bullying, violence, and suicide and create change in schools that foster empathy and end isolation. For more information on bringing Rachel’s Challenge to your school, contact our representatives today.


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