October 1, 2023

Editor’s note: This article on digital citizenship in schools originally appeared on CoSN’s blog and is reposted here with permission.

Part of a Blog Series from the Emerging Technologies Committee Leveraging Technology for Improving School Wellness and Safety

Sometimes it feels as though social media has taken over the world. We live in an age of competing attention to hold our interest. If you have ever been in a K-12 classroom, you will see that it won’t take long for students to be distracted by the latest YouTube video or TikTok trend. We must find the balance in day to day interactions at school, work, and with family to focus on what is important at the time.

First, it is important to define a few terms. According to Virtual Library, digital citizenship is “engaging in appropriate and responsible behavior when using technology.” Digital literacy is the ability to find, evaluate, and communicate information using digital platforms. A digital footprint is the trace one leaves behind on the internet which can be from posting photos, videos, or text.

The Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) in Oshkosh, WI is actively addressing digital citizenship with students in their elementary, middle, and high schools. A team of library media specialists adapted the free Common Sense Media curriculum. They work with classroom or homeroom teachers to deliver monthly instruction based on various topics which include: media balance, online safety, digital footprint, cyberbullying, and more. Another option for other districts and schools could be to leverage their learning management system to push out lessons. Additionally, the OASD’s library media department promotes Digital Citizenship Week each October and shares a handout with families to promote conversation between parents/guardians and their students. 

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