What is Digital Citizenship?

Dig Cit

Digital citizenship has created its own generic meaning. Although many people have identified the importance of teaching digital citizenship, and elements to focus on while teaching digital citizenship, one true solid definition does not exist. When searching for the standard definition of digital citizenship, the teacher in me first turned to Merriam-Webster. I entered “digital citizenship” the response “Words Fail Us, this is not found in our dictionary.”. Then I decided to enter digital citizen, the same response occurred. Really? When you Google digital citizenship, a plethora of options appear, but searching for one true, standard definition was not possible. (“Dictionary: Search the Merriam-Webster dictionary first. Here’s why…”, 2017)

Google offered several examples of what other educators say about digital citizenship. As I skimmed the internet, and focused on my reading for the week, I came across three examples of the meaning of digital citizenship that I decided to take note of.

Ribble defines digital citizenship in section one of his book Digital Citizenship in Schools: Nine Elements All Students Should Know as a concept that “reinforces the positive aspects of technology so that everyone can work and play in the digital world.” (Ribble,2015)

Terry Heick defines digital citizenship on the website Teachthought.com as “the quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” (“Definition of Digital Citizenship”, 2017)

Kristen Hicks shares in her writing featured on edudemic.com the importance of digital literacy, and digital citizenship in schools today. She explains that “Teaching digital citizenship means embracing the reality that we’re all interconnected through the Internet, and that we therefore need to understand the responsibilities and risks that come with life online.” (“Digital Citizenship”, 2017)

After studying, contemplating, and soul searching, I decided to share my thinking about digital citizenship. I felt the following ideas should be considered while sharing the importance and meaning of digital citizenship with our students. My personal definition of digital citizenship; The interpretation of the actions of digital users, including behavior that impacts others positively or negatively, while considering an individual’s contribution to our global community.

Educators take note, often you are the first source our students turn to when looking for the meaning of an unknown topic. Digital citizenship has a place in our vocabulary, and in our classrooms. It is our responsibility to expose our students to the responsibility and danger associated with the internet. Our goal should be to inform our students of what to expect, and how to react while living in this digital world.



Definition of Digital Citizenship. (2017). TeachThought. Retrieved 8 June 2017, from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/digital-citizenship-the-future-of-learning/the-definition-of-digital-citzenship/

Dictionary: Search the Merriam-Webster dictionary first. Here’s why…. (2017). Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 10 June 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/

Digital Citizenship. (2017). digitalcitizenship. Retrieved 10 June 2017, from http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Home_Page.php

Digital Citizenship. (2017). Livebinders.com. Retrieved 8 June 2017, from http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=1335250

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital Citizenship in Schools: Nine Elements All Students Should Know (3rd ed., p. 1). Eugene, Oregon: International Society for Technology Education.


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