Digital Citizenship and Web Etiquette

Please Watch the following video (Common Sense Education, n.d.).


Questions for reflection:

What does it mean to you to be a good digital citzen?

What are some issues you have noticed with behaving civily online or social media?

What prinicples does the pledge in the video teach about digital citizenship?

Digital Citizenship

The other important aspect of Digital Citizenship is understanding how the Internet works (Zook, 2019). It requires being able to critically evaluate sources and not believing everything that is posted online (Common Sense Education, n.d.). This is called digital literacy. Digital literacy involves avoiding clickbait and fake news (Zook, 2019). As a result, students need to be caught critical thinking skills and how to evaulate an article's claims and evidence. Students also need to be taught the basics of how keep their personal data collected and be guided as to what is appropriate to post online (Zook, 2019).  Students need to understand that many companies, such as Google, track their online search information and record it, so students must be careful with what they search online (Zook, 2019).  Finally, empathy comes into play here as an important part of digital literacy is recognizing the humanity behind the web and letting that guide their actions online (Zook, 2019). In conclusion, the skills most useful for Digital Citizens are to be able to critically think about what they see online and how be empathic towards others, espically online.

The Importance of Empathy in Social Media Etiquette

Any guideline to what is appropariate social media behavior (online or offline) would be incomplete without an iron foundation of empathy to hold them up. Empathy is the ability to consider another person's feelings and perespectives as if they were your own. Online, empathy is the abilty to remeber, that even if you cannot see another person's face or hear their voice, there is still a living, emotinonal person on the other side of the computer screen, and they should be treated accordingly (Zook, 2019). It is important for educators to model empathic behavior both online and offline as an exemplar to their students. Any guidelines that teachers or parents adopt towards their students or children need to be based on empathy to maximize the social connection potential of the Internet. In general, a good rule for online conduct is to not post anything online that would not be appropriate for a student to do in class or at work (James, 2014). This includes offensive language, profanity, cyberbullying, and insulting others over the web (James, 2014). Also, from personal experience, I have learned it is not a good idea to bring fights with friends or significant others online.While many teenagers often get involved in fights with friends, posting the information about the fight online can cause it to ballon and involve more people. I remember quite a few close friendships that ended because someone posted about the conflict online. What I learned, and students need to understand, is that posting private disputes online make them much harder, if not impossible, to resolve without any lasting damage to the relationship. Lastly, students need to understand that whatever they post may last forver, so they shouldn't post anything that could cost them in the future (James, 2014). The role of educators then is to help students recognize what types of posts (i.e offensive language) may come back to haunt them in the future.


Man with computer pointing scornful finger (Stock Image)

 Cyberbullying is using technolgy as a platform for bullying or abusive behavior. This includes sending hurtful messages, libel, or impersonating someone's identity (Unicef, n.d.). Cyberbullying can lead to a loss of interest in school, or most tragically, even taking their own life (Unicef, n.d.). Any guide of Web Ettiquete would be incomplete without accounting for cyberbullying. It is important for students to comprehend that it is possible for anyone to become a victim of cyberbullying (Unicef, n.d.). Educators need to understand that it can sometimes be hard for a student to identify if they are being bullied, as it can be hard for students to tell if a bullying action was just a unitentionally hurtful joke (Unicef, n.d.). Students need to feel comfortable to report to their teacher if they are being cyberbullied. Teachers should also familarize themselves with how to report cyberbullying on sepcific social media platforms (a guide to several social media platforms can be found at UNICEF). Teachers should be aware of and follow any local school district policies or local laws with cyberbullying, if any exist (Unicef, n.d.). Rules of conduct for popular social media platforms can also be found at UNICEF. Most importantly of all, students need to be taught that their voice is the best defense against cyber bullying (Unicef, n.d.). Students can be taught they can make a difference in the blogosphere,and they can use the Internet to be forces for good in the world. That is really what online etiquette is about, being a force for good in the world.

Assignments for Learning

1. Create a billboard with the word DIGITAL written down the middle. Turn digital into an acronym for teaching good digital citizenship and display it in your class (you may also wish to complete this exercise with your class as well).









2. Read the following link and answer the following questions (Feel free to use a similar exercise to teach students about social media etiquette).

People who were fired over social media posts (Marketwatch US, n.d.)

-What do these examples show about the consquences of poor social media decisions?

-What prinicples, if followed, would have prevented these people from making posts that cost them their job?

Share answers in the comments below!

Additional Resources

Unicef (n.d.)

Thirteen Rules for Social Media (James, 2014). (not geared towards education, but a lot of the article's points are generalizable to net etiquette in the classroom).

What is Digital Citizenship?  (Zook, 2019).


Common Sense Education (n.d.). We the digital citizens [Video File]. Retrieved from 

Common Sense Education (n.d.) . What is digital citizenship?  [Video File]. Retrived from

James, G. (2014, May 1). 13 social media rules to live by. Inc. com. Retrieved from 

[Photograph of man with computer accusing finger-cyberbullying). Retrieved May 30, 2020, from

Marketwatch, U.S. (n.d.). 9 people who were fired for posting on social media. Market Watch. Retrieved from

Unicef (n.d.). Cyberbullying: What it is and how to stop it. Unicef. Retrieved from 

Zook, C. (2019, Dec. 10). What is digital citizenship. Applied Educational Systems. Retrived from