Media Literacy

5-Minute Film Festival: Teaching Digital Citizenship

VideoAmy explores the topic of digital citizenship with this playlist of videos on the importance of online safety, manners, privacy, and responsibility.

September 14, 2012 Updated October 24, 2014

"Digital citizenship" is an umbrella term that covers a whole host of important issues. Broadly, it's the guidelines for responsible, appropriate behavior when one is using technology. But specifically, it can cover anything from "netiquette" to cyberbullying; technology access and the digital divide; online safety and privacy; copyright, plagiarism, and digital law, and more. In fact, some programs that teach digital citizenship have outlined no less than nine elements that intersect to inform a well-equipped digital citizen. It's an overwhelming array of skills to be taught and topics to explore.

But while there is much talk about the importance of teaching digital citizenship in this information society, not many are sure what that really looks like. What tools are out there for teaching it? And how in the world can teachers make time in an already overcrowded curriculum? This playlist is intended to offer tools to make the case that it's critical to teach this, and then launchpad videos to seed classroom discussions once you've carved out that precious time.

Video Playlist: Teaching Digital Citizenship

Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.

  1. What is Digital Citizenship? (05:19)

    This succinct video from BeCyberwise describes why digital citizenship is so important. Includes a clip of Howard Gardner speaking about his GoodPlay project and a peek at Common Sense Media's comprehensive Digital Citizenship curriculum.

  2. Be a Digital Citizen (02:13)

    Need a quick and simple clip to introduce the concept of digital citizenship to parents or students? This video gives some statistics about internet and social media usage and then describes the many ways in which we are all affected on a daily basis by our technology use.

  3. Go Figure 2 -- Online Safety Version (04:15)

    Produced by the international Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), this animated video zips through a flurry of statistics about young people and online safety. It paints a powerful picture of how important it is to get these conversations started.

  4. Out Of Your Hands (01:06)

    Watch in dismay as an inappropriate photograph travels from one poor naive teen girl to an online stalker, ending with the admonition "Think before you post." This interactive series of videos was produced by public service announcement (PSA) veterans the Ad Council.

  5. TEDxUIUC - Sherry Turkle - Alone Together (16:24)

    Thought-provoking TED Talk by MIT professor Sherry Turkle, who has spent much of the last 30 years researching how people relate with technology. It's a long clip at sixteen minutes, but would make a fabulous discussion starter for a lesson on how we function in this culture of connectivity.

  6. Digital Dossier (04:24)

    This fascinating narrative follows the digital journey of the fictional "Andy" from pre-birth to adulthood by tracking his "digital footprint." It can be illuminating to stop and think about how much personal information we're putting out on the Web. Produced by the Digital Natives Project.

  7. YouTube Digital Citizenship Curriculum (01:35)

    Another option for free digital literacy curriculum is this one developed by Google and YouTube, who have strong motivations for training young people to be savvy tech users. If YouTube is blocked in your school, please do check out YouTube for Schools, a portal that allows your school to access white-listed educational YouTube content safely and securely.

  8. Invasion of the Data Snatchers: How To Protect Your Online Privacy (04:02)

    This animated video from manages to be at once cute and menacing. Though geared towards adults, it's a great wake-up call about online privacy issues, and although they're ultimately pushing a paid product, they have some good free resources and privacy protection tools.

  9. Our Kids' Connected Culture - Overview for Parents and Teachers (05:56)

    This is a great video from Common Sense Media. The MySpace references make it feel little dated, but the issues the teen girl is talking about are just as typical today. It's nice to hear directly from young people about their experiences, and there is a section of tips at the end that are really useful. Also worth watching: this video on their cyberbullying curriculum.

  10. Digital Citizen (01:00)

    Here's a great idea for a classroom project that teaches about copyright and usage issues while also exploring the themes of digital literacy: have kids create a slideshow video with Creative Commons images about the big questions of digital citizenship.

  11. Netiquette - Playing Nice on the Internet (03:20)

    Look past the slightly cheesy opening -- this video is a tidy roundup of the basics of good netiquette, something all of us could use a refresher on. Did you know the rules of netiquette pre-date the Web as we know it?

More Resources for Learning About Digital Citizenship

While we haven't solved the problem of finding time in the schedule to teach these essential topics, there is a wealth of great free resources to be found -- many of them aligned to standards, either the Common Core ELA standards, or ISTE's NETS, or both. Whatever the angle you'd like to focus on, you should be able to find some strong materials to supplement your work. Here's a list of resources, organizations, and reading materials to help you get started.

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