9 Elements of Digital Citizenship to Teach Your Students

Digital Citizenship-Word Cloud

What is digital citizenship? It refers to the responsible use and safety best practices of technology by anyone who uses computers, the internet, and other digital devices. In a world where students are digital natives and don’t know life without technology –especially in a school environment –it’s important now more than ever to teach them the elements they need to know inside and outside the classroom.

9 Elements of Digital Citizenship

1. Access

Even though it’s now a part of our everyday lives, not everyone has equitable access to technology. Educators must be aware of the digital divide among students and provide options for students who may have limited access to online resources, such as a computer, smartphone, or internet access.

2. Commerce

Using money in the digital world, along with the electronic buying and selling of goods, requires knowledge and safeguards. From buying apps and games to ordering on Amazon to banking- students need to be taught how to use money safely and effectively in the online space. Understanding e-commerce can help both as consumers and show them the pathway to be a potential entrepreneur.

3. Communication

Communicating online has become as common as speaking face to face. The difference is that verbal tone and nonverbal cues are often lost in the process, breaking down the context that we often take for granted and leading to miscommunication. Students must be taught how they’re going to share their thoughts online so that others accurately understand their message. In a world full of technology that gives students access to an array of knowledge at their fingertips, the way schools engage with Generation Z must be relevant and relatable by communicating in a format they know and understand.

4. Etiquette

There are electronic standards of conduct and procedures regarding online behavior and attitudes that students should learn early on. For example, respecting others by not sharing their personal information, photos, or videos; good sportsmanship while playing online games, and remembering the golden rule to treat others like they want to be treated. Etiquette can also be taught with how students use their device when around other people in person, such as: putting the device down when someone is speaking to them, putting the device away at dinnertime, and knowing the appropriate times to silence the device.

5. Health & Wellness

In a digitally focused world, the physical and psychological well-being of students is critical. Students need to learn how to have an intentional and healthy relationship with technology. In classrooms where students are issued their own digital device it’s important to monitor screen time and help students navigate how technology can be a part of a healthy, balanced life.

6. Law

Just like students learn about crossing the street and not talking to strangers, they need to be taught legal rights and restrictions of using technology and how digital law applies to them. Issues like cyberbullying, sexting, and plagiarism are all examples of areas that are breaking the law, but they often aren’t talked about enough in school. Educators should be direct and create positive approaches to these issues in their schools, so students know they are supported but that there are also consequences.

7. Literacy

Digital literacy is how well your ability is to navigate, understand, assess, and communicate through various digital platforms. For example, reading an ebook on a kindle, turning in an assignment on a Chromebook, evaluating a news article on social media or sharing a video on YouTube. Teaching digital literacy is important because it gives students the ability to discern good information and make positive decisions online.

8. Rights & Responsibilities

Everyone in the digital world is extended certain requirements and freedoms. Students need to understand that access to the internet and online products is a privilege and opportunity that requires essential skills so that they can protect themselves and others online. Schools should hold students accountable for their actions while also teaching them to report any misconduct they see or experience in a virtual environment.

9. Security

When students are using digital devices at home and at school, they should be aware that viruses, worms, and other bots can be passed from one system to another, just like an illness can be passed from one human to another. Understanding how to evaluate whether a site is safe and using preventative measures, like anti-virus software and not opening suspicious emails, are important skills to help protect devices and personal information.

These 9 elements of digital citizenship are put in place so that students learn to recognize that their actions have consequences for others, even online. The best way to teach digital citizenship is to have the conversation about best practices early on to help build positive digital experiences at home and in the classroom.

For more tips on how to incorporate digital activities in your classroom, check out our teacher training webinars!


EdTech Solutions leverages educational technology to improve learning experiences by making it easy and simple for schools and students to manage and access individualized digital content on any device. EdTech’s cutting-edge approach to schoolwide ebook implementation and our innovative online platform and tools give school administrators and teachers the controls they need while providing students and parents with access to all their content on one easy-to-use platform with a single login, in most cases.

When you work with us, we create a personalized bookstore for your school where students can access and purchase their ebooks and textbooks onShelfit.com. We also help publishers make their content available digitally to students on our robust multi-publisher ebook reader platform. We strongly believe that knowledge and good education should be available to all, and we are committed to developing and providing the online learning tools and modern services that make it possible.