Does Digital Citizenship Go Beyond the Scope of the Online World?

As I scrolled through the never-ending lists of blogs focused on education, I decided to narrow my options and shoot for a more exclusive category: digital citizenship. Digital citizenship has been one of the main focal points of this semester and as I perused through this particular realm of blogs, I instantly became enticed by the name of one article in particular, “Digital Citiz-wait, what?” So, I decided to read it (which can be found at http://erstrong.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/digital-citiz-wait-what/).

It grasped my attention right off the bat. I think this was because of the conciseness of the writing and its sweet simplicity, while also conveying some messages I hadn’t yet considered. We’ve spent a lot of time defining digital citizenship in class, and I’m glad we did (especially considering I had never once heard of the term prior to class). Through my first few weeks of pondering the definition of this, at least to me, foreign term, I basically created my own definition, which is unfortunately kind of bland and ordinary: digital citizenship is the process of utilizing the internet and all of its resources to become a productive member of the online world, while respecting others’ views. However, after reading this article, I’ve come to look at it from a whole new perspective, further broadening my idea of what digital citizenship truly is.

I enjoyed all of the ideas presented, from bullying, to copyright, to etiquette, and so on, even though I sadly recognize that I too have been part of the problem in the past (although hey, who hasn’t in one way or another?). For example, cyber bullying is an incredible problem worldwide, which has disturbingly led to suicides and broken relationships and I feel as though this isn’t restricted to simply being an “internet problem,” but rather a societal problem existent since the dawn of time, which needs to be addressed to all children, in all schools, in all countries. Perhaps what I’m trying to say here is that my agreements with and supports of Emily’s argument can be summed up in one sentence she wrote: “It’s about (digital citizenship) teaching people to be decent human beings and to use blunt speech and insults only in contexts where they are appropriate (where as she pretty much stated, “when is it, if ever, appropriate to insult?”).

So, should we be teaching our students about “digital citizenship” or should we simply be teaching them about what it means to treat others with respect, kindness, fairness, and dignity? Perhaps it’s a combination of both. Or, maybe we need to delve deeper into the meaning of digital citizenship and keep it as its own, separate entity- I really don’t know.

As a future educator, I’ll have to make that decision on my own and discover my philosophy on digital citizenship. As technology and the internet expand by the second, it’ll be of the utmost importance that I do relay to my students guidelines of what it means to be respectful and mindful of others in the online world. However, more importantly, I’ll have to relay those same messages to them regarding being respectful and mindful of others in the real world, everywhere they go.

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