What Does it Mean to Be a Digital Citizen: The 9 Elements

It’s no secret that the parenting game is changing. The world is progressing forward at an exciting speed, and new technology is being introduced every single day. As things shoot forward, our kids are getting more and more familiar with their devices (for better or worse). This means that we’ve really had to reevaluate what it means to parent in the age of tech.

In addition to bringing orange slices to soccer games and helping with math homework, parents have the new responsibility of teaching kiddos how to use technology and take ownership of their digital lives. This means teaching them how to be a digital citizen.

What is digital citizenship?

You may have heard the term before, but just what is digital citizenship for students, elderly, and many more people? Well, it’s nothing so drastic as renouncing your US citizenship and becoming a citizen of the internet. It’s actually pretty simple!

To answer the question “what is digital citizenship” in simple words, it means knowing how to use tech safely and securely. A good digital citizen has the knowledge and skills necessary to use digital tech for communication, participation in society, and the creation and consumption of digital content. 

A digital citizen is also a teacher! When kiddos are provided online opportunities like surfing the web or reading an article on Wikipedia, they can use digital citizenship skills to help others know how to safely take advantage of the same opportunities. 

DigitalCitizenship and Common Sense Education have great resources that help kids and parents alike know what it means to be a digital citizen.

Why is digital citizenship important?

How many times have you been bamboozled by some new device? You’re not alone! To use technology, you have to know what you’re doing. This is where being a digital citizen comes in.

Knowing the basics of digital citizenship helps teachers, parents, and workers in the tech world develop an understanding of what kids and students need to know about using technology properly and appropriately. This is especially important in a post-COVID world, where Zoom calls and online assignments are quickly becoming the norm.

However, kids aren’t the only people that can be digital citizens. Teenagers, young adults, parents, and elderly individuals alike all have the responsibility of knowing how to use their technology appropriately. 

To help us all learn how to be digital citizens, let’s take a look at the 9 elements of digital citizenship. These are nine themes that help digital citizens learn how to:

  • Lead and assist others in building positive digital experiences
  • Recognize that our actions have consequences to others
  • Participate in a manner for the common good

What are the 9 elements of digital citizenship?

  1. Digital Access is about making sure that everyone has access to the online resources they need. If you’re a teacher or administrator, this means being aware of your classroom or community and doing all you can to make work accessible.
  1. Digital Commerce refers to buying and selling online safely. If you’re like me, you are a chronic online shopper. Knowing how to use the financial side of the internet appropriately keeps your information safe from hackers, so you can shop ‘til you drop.
  1. Digital Communication and Collaboration is about using technology to communicate. This means knowing how to organize your thoughts and present information in a way that others can comprehend what you’re trying to say.
  1. Digital Etiquette is just like regular etiquette. If you wouldn’t say something in person, why would you say it on the internet? Remind your kids that there are real people on the other side of the screen, and that our actions online have real life consequences! 
  1. Digital Fluency means knowing how to use technology. The better our kids understand how to use technology, the more appropriately they’ll be able to use it.
  1. Digital Health and Welfare deals with our well-being in a digital world. Spending time with technology can be so rewarding, but it’s important to know our limits and be able to take a break. Trust me, your tired eyes and brain will thank you.
  1. Digital Law means taking responsibility for your actions online. While the internet may seem like a total free-for-all, there are rules and regulations that we have to follow. Just like in the real world, our safety and well-being benefit from structure.
  1. Digital Rights and Responsibilities are the freedoms that everyone in the digital world has. We all have free access to the internet. With that freedom comes the responsibility to use the internet for good rather than bad, and the responsibility of helping others do the same.
  1. Digital Security and Privacy is the guarantee of safety online. Knowing how to protect yourself and your data from viruses, worms, and other nefarious computer bugs, is so important! 

If you’re nervous about that last element, digital security and privacy, check out Troomi! Our smart devices are developed with your child’s safety in mind. They feature military-grade security and an optional safelisting feature that protects your child from unwanted texts and calls. Click here to learn more.

And keep an eye on the Troomi blog for more technology tips and tricks in the future!