What is Digital Citizenship?

Digital Citizenship is a concept that helps teachers, school administrators, and parents to understand what students should know in order to use technology safely and appropriately. As technology becomes more integrated into students’ lives and educational experiences, school authorities are exploring digital citizenship as an alternate approach. Digital citizenship encourages students to respect themselves, others and intellectual property, while at the same time learning to think critically about protecting themselves and others from harmful content and behaviours online.

Recognizing that students have digital lives and benefit from the use of technology, schools have the opportunity to help students build the skills they need to become responsible citizens in the global online community.


Why Is Digital Citizenship Important?

The Internet offers students many opportunities for learning and social interaction. It also brings the potential for dangers and risks, such as cyberbullying and identity theft. Digital citizenship skills allow students to develop a framework for responsible technology use, preparing them for success in learning and in life.1


The 9 Digital Citizenship Themes

There are currently 9 themes covered in the principle of Digital Citizenship2:

  1. Communicating – Online communication uses technology to exchange information.
  2. Safety – Online safety is protecting not only oneself and others but also one’s devices from potential risks and dangers.
  3. Digital Footprint – A digital footprint is a trail of information about an individual that can be found online.
  4. Cyberbullying – Cyberbullying is using technology to intimidate or threaten a person.
  5. Well-being – Well-being means feeling good both physically and psychologically.
  6. Copyright & Plagiarism – Copyright is the right to reproduce in whole or in part a work in any form. Plagiarism means taking someone's work and claiming it as your own.
  7. Information Literacy – Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to ‘recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.
  8. Advertising & Marketing – Advertising and marketing is using publicity to persuade individuals to buy either through the promotion of a product, a service or an idea.
  9. Buying & Selling – Online buying and selling is the giving and receiving of something in exchange for an agreed upon price.


More Information

Further information and teaching resources can be found at MediaSmarts.

1 Alberta Education: Technology Briefing - Digital Citizenship.
2 MediaSmarts

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Last revised on 10 January, 2023.