Teaching Digital Citizenship

The Ministry of Education is working on integrating the teaching of digital citizenship into the curriculum. As the use of technology becomes commonplace for our students it is necessary that we all learn how to be good, safe, and responsible digital citizens.

The nine themes of digital citizenship are considered, as outlined by Mike Ribble, to be:

  1. Digital Access
  2. Digital Commerce
  3. Digital Communication
  4. Digital Literacy
  5. Digital Etiquette
  6. Digital Law
  7. Digital Rights and Responsibilities
  8. Digital Health and Wellness
  9. Digital Security (self-protection)

Several outcomes and indicators, which support teaching digital citizenship, can be found in the Saskatchewan Curriculum. I have chosen six outcomes, from a range of grade levels, to use as specific example of places where digital citizenship can be incorporated. However, there are many more areas of learning that could also incorporate the ideas and learning of digital citizenship.

English Language Arts

CR5.2: View and evaluate, critically, visual and multimedia texts identifying the persuasive techniques including promises, flattery, and comparisons used to influence or persuade an audience.

The following indicators can show this outcome as it relates to digital citizenship:

  • Gather information from a variety of media (e.g. web sites, advertising, and or videos).
  • Recognize point of view and distinguish between fact and opinion.
  • Identify the values underlying visual messages and recognize persuasive techniques and purposes in oral presentations and various media (e.g., promises, dares, flattery, comparisons).

Teaching about digital literacy could be integrated into this outcome by having students look at information on websites and construct ways of gathering information and knowing how to read into the information provided. Students can learn how they can judge the quality and source of the information in ways that make them literate and informed digital citizens.

CC B10.4Create a variety of written informational (including a business letter, biographical profile, problem-solution essay) and literary (including fictionalized journal entries and a short script) communications.


  • Write a biographical profile that: includes key ideas learned about the person, begins by sharing some important background information, describes the subject and explains what he or she accomplished, ends by leaving the readers with something to think about and consider.
  • Experiment with and explore a variety of written text forms (such as letter of complaint, obituary, brochure) and techniques (such as figurative language, literary devices, anecdotes).
  • Write fictionalized journal entries

This outcome and these indicators could integrate digital etiquette and communication into the curriculum. I think that students could learn and become good digital citizens by creating blogs and using what they learn to show and practice good digital citizenship. Blogs could allow students to create biographical profiles (a safe and positive digital identity), students could explore writing blog entries as a varied text form while using techniques that they learn, and students could use their blog for creative works such as character writing as well as blogging as themselves. I think this hands on approach would allow students to learn and practice digital citizenship and ELA subject matter.

Wellness 10

W1: Evaluate one’s understanding of wellness while participating in various learning opportunities that balance the dimensions of wellness (i.e., physical, psychological, social, spiritual, environmental).


  • Examine the consequences of neglecting or over-emphasizing any of the dimensions of wellness.
  • Analyze individual and civic responsibility in nurturing well-being and examine the social factors (including expectations of self and others) that influence personal wellness.

This outcome and these indicators could integrate the themes of digital health and wellness into the curriculum. Students could learn about moderation, while using technology for social and leisure purposes can be good for our overall health it must be part of a balanced lifestyle. Being a digital citizen means making sure you aren’t using technology in ways that can damage your health physically or mentally.


WA20.6Demonstrate understanding of personal budgets and their importance for financial planning. [CN,PS,R,T,V]


  • Explain considerations that must be made when developing a budget (e.g., prioritizing, recurring and unexpected expenses).
  • Explain, using examples, the advantages of creating personal budgets.

As part of learning digital commerce, students in Workplace and Apprenticeship 20 could integrate this theme of digital citizenship into financial math. As part of being good digital citizens, learners need to know how to budget for buying digital content as digital consumers.

Health Education

USC6.1: Analyze the factors that influence the development of personal standards and identity, and determine the impact on healthy decision making (including cultural norms, societal norms, family values, peer pressures, mass media, traditional knowledge, white privilege, legacy of colonization, and heterosexual privilege).


  • Identify sources of, and evaluate information about, personal beliefs and values.
  • Examine the connections between affirming personal standards and developing identity.

With this outcome and these indicators the idea of digital identity could be learned and discussed. Students could learn about digital security and communication. What do students do and say on the internet and how does that form their digital identity? How do they know what is appropriate to show on the web? How can students make healthy decisions about digital identity?

USC6.6: Develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and personal standards necessary for establishing and supporting safe practices and environments related to various community activities.


  • Investigate and analyze the intent of the rules, regulations, and laws related to safety practices for common and local adolescent activities.
  • Defend the statement “community safety is everyone’s responsibility”.

While this outcome and these indicators can be considered in terms of “local” activities, the common activities done by adolescents on the web can be included in the promoting of personal safety. As the web becomes a common community for adolescents to belong to it is important that they learn how to be safe as digital citizens.

These outcomes show how there are places in the current curriculum where digital citizenship can be incorporated into the teaching and learning. The web is a common community and platform that students are using, so education must reflect their activities and needs. In order to be able to use the web and be safe on the web, we must be educated about using the web.

Here’s a video about what digital citizenship curriculum can look like. What ideas do you have about ways to teach students how to be digital citizens?

Source Citation:

Ribble, Mike. “Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship.” Digital Citizenship: Using Technology Appropriately. n.p., 2014. Web. 09 October 2014.



The Saskatchewan Curriculum


9 thoughts on “Teaching Digital Citizenship

  1. I’m so glad that digital citizenship is becoming part of the curriculum. The one kid in the video said he spent 24 hours on the internet and yet until not there’s never been a curricular plan to help him to navigate that world safely and with purpose.
    dustan j. hlady

  2. Me too, learning about how to be safe and tactful requires more than public service announcements using scare tactics. Education plays a huge role and it is a great disservice to ignore the importance of fully educating people about how to navigate the web.

  3. Paige – You make some good connections to curriculum here, and I love how you’ve included a video. By the way, the citations aren’t necessary as long as you have linked to the content in the post – that’s a blogging way of citing stuff (and there’s a digital literacy lesson right there 🙂 ).

  4. My biggest concern is that this still treats the whole idea as something that is separate from “real” life – we need to shift from the idea of “digital” citizenship to just citizenship – being a good citizen in our vastly changing world that includes digital. Continuing to separate the two continues to imply that there is a way to act on line and a way to act when not on line when people need to learn that the internet isn’t another place – it is just an extension of the world. I applaud the idea of it being integrated into various subjects explicitly, which is something that many teachers have already been doing in areas like social, health and ELA. However, being a good citizen is found in many other places and really, it applies to being online and offline.

    • Absolutely, thank you for bringing that up. I think the separation of “real” and “digital” can cause issues and so we should definitely consider them as continuous and extensions of overall identity and citizenship.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s