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Why Citizenship Matters in the Digital World

Why Citizenship Matters in the Digital World
Dr. Edna Hussey

This past week, all elementary students participated in Digital Citizenship week (also celebrated nationwide) to raise their awareness about responsible use of technology.

In lessons appropriate to the age, students learned about protecting their privacy through effective passwords and not sharing passwords; assessing the quality of websites as “real” or “fake”; and respectful behavior online. One week of learning about what it means to be a good digital citizen wonʻt be enough for ethical use to be part of daily practice. Our consistent guidance is necessary in school and especially at home. The faculty monitors digital usage in school where safety measures have been implemented. The challenge is monitoring usage at home where so many students have access to home devices, including the cell/mobile phone.

We hope you’ll join us for a morning coffee conversation with our elementary ed tech specialist Taieya Kihe on September 28, 8:30 – 9:30am. The Zoom meeting information is in this weekʻs newsletter, which you have received on your digital device.

These high school students shared helpful reminders at two chapel services about protecting your online. privacy

I wanted to know more about the aspect of “citizenship” tied to digital usage and why this aspect needs to be emphasized. Itʻs not just about safe usage but about citizenship. In the formation of our nationʻs democracy, the dissemination of information was largely through the printed press. In the 21st century, we breathe in millions of bits of information. The exponential growth of the Internet has not only changed how we receive and access media, but has included information transmission via social media and many information networks (NPR, Fox, CNN, etc.). So much information influences what we believe, what we think, and how we act. In school and at home, parents and educators teach children how to be good citizens.

Digital citizenship is defined as “empowering students to take control of their digital lives”. If being a good citizen means being respectful, safe, and responsible in our relationships with others, being a good digital citizen is being respectful, safe, and responsible in digital spaces everywhere.

The International Society for Technology in Education extends the traits of a good citizen to what it means to be a good digital citizen. I include a few here:

A good citizen… A good digital citizen…
Advocates for equal human rights for all Advocates for equal digital rights for all
Treats others with respect Seeks to understand all perspectives
Speaks honestly and does not repeat unsubstantiated rumors Applies critical thinking to all online sources, fake websites or or advertisements
Works to make the world a better place Leverages technology to advocate for and advance social causes

Our students who are digital natives need to understand the values, ethics, and behaviors necessary for democracy to thrive in the digital world. Developing the skills to be strong digital citizens is not just part of the curriculum. It is essential to their understanding of citizenship through a curriculum and instructional approach based on critical thinking — inquiry — in all areas of the program.

E Kūlia Kākou! Let’s strive and aspire together!

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.

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