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What is Digital Citizenship?

Digital Citizenship can be described as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior (and its positive and negative impact on self and others) with regard to technology use

This page provides a topic summary for each of the nine concepts that fall under the umbrella of Digital Citizenship.

Creative Credit and Copyright

Copyright law is often confused with Fair Use. In fact, Fair Use is a defense of copyright infringement. It is important to weigh in on four factors before making a decision to use information that is copyrighted. The four factors include the following:

  • Factor 1: The purpose and character of the use. If a copyrighted work is copied for an instructional purpose in a school and distributed to students without charge, and/or copied for personal scholarly use, then the application of Factor 1 weighs in favor of fair use.
  • Factor 2: The nature of the copyrighted work.  When evaluating the use of creative works, the use of facts is less controversial than more creative works, such as a work of fiction.
  • Factor 3: The amount of the material used. The less you take from the creative work, the more likely that  copying will be excused as a Fair Use.
  • Factor 4: The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work. Is the use of the work going to limit the sale of the work?

Creative Commons was created to increase the permissions, making it easier to use and share.


As defined in the WD7 District Handbook, Bullying is: “Any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate, or humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma. “Bullying” includes cyberbullying which the use of technology (e.g. email, texting, social media sites) to degrade or humiliate another person or group. Youth who report being the victim of chronic bullying are more likely to report being depressed, considering or attempting suicide, using drugs or alcohol, carrying a weapon, or being frequent or chronic bullies themselves.

Digital Footprint and Reputation

Your digital footprint is the trail of data you create as you use the internet. Some pieces of your digital footprint are easy to understand, like the history of websites you visit, the emails you send and the information you submit to online services. Other pieces of your footprint are not as obvious. A few examples include cookies added to your computer, what other people post about you, and location tracking based on your web searches and IP Address.

A digital footprint provides information about what you do in the digital environment. This data is valuable to companies who seek to use it for behavioral targeting, personalization, and targeted marketing. It can also be used by educational institutions, potential employers, and significant others to make decisions and judgments about you. Your digital footprint grows every time you search, Tweet, Share and Like something. Whether a student or an adult, individuals need to take ownership over their digital footprint and build one that will contribute positively to their communities and to their future success.

Information Literacy

Information literacy is the ability to recognize the extent and nature of an information need, then to locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information. It is common to all content areas, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It is also important to recognize that there are differences in resources that are used for personal use (shopping and sports scores) and those used for academic or scholarly research. Information literacy enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to evaluate information and its sources critically and use information ethically and legally.

It has become increasingly clear that students cannot learn everything about all content areas. Information literacy equips individuals with the critical skills necessary to become independent lifelong learners.

Internet Safety

Internet Safety is all about keeping ourselves and our computer systems safe on the Internet. Internet Safety involves a wide range of topics including Internet Predators, Human Trafficking, Terrorist Groups, Malicious Software, Computer Viruses, Ransomware, and Data Theft.

Privacy and Security

Technology tools and apps are making it possible for adults and students to collaborate, create, and share ideas more easily than ever. When schools use technology, students’ data—including some personal and academic information—is collected both by educators and the companies that provide apps and online services used by the students. Student Data Privacy laws, including but not limited to, FERPA and ISSRA govern how student data must be handled.  It is important for educators to understand and abide by these laws and regulations so that student data is protected. Parents should weigh the risks and benefits associated with every app or account their child creates at home. Reading Terms of Service and Privacy Policies can help users be informed about how their data will be shared and with whom it may be shared.

Self-Image and Identity

Self-image is defined as the ideas that a person has about their own abilities, appearance, and personality. Self-identity is defined as the recognition of one's potential and qualities as an individual, especially in relation to the social context. Both self-image and self-identity for students are, in part, shaped by one's experiences in digital settings. An individual's self-image is influenced by many things, including images seen and the interactions they have in the digital world. Comments or "likes" on photos shared via social media, email conversations, and other digital interactions can both positively and negatively shape how an individual sees themselves.

Social Networking

In the early days of the Internet, most adults were concerned about exposing kids to objectionable material. With Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter (and Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, etc.) adult concerns have shifted to include worries about the objectionable content our kids are creating and posting.

In reality, our kids are doing activities similar to adults:

  • Talking about their day-to-day activities
  • Maintaining friendships
  • Posting photos
  • Coordinating social events

However, one thing our kids are doing online that adults are not is going through adolescence. Today all of the angst and drama-filled normal teenage stuff that they all go through plays out online via social media. We know from research that the adolescent brain is not fully developed until their mid-twenties. Students may not think about or realize the long-term implications of their choices.

Educators and parents need to think through the issues involved in social media use. We need to teach students how to use social media as a vehicle for connecting with others in order to learn. We should also be aware of the inherent risks of social media, consider how social media is involved in the process of adolescent identity formation, and know the appropriate practices for educators using social networking at work and in their private lives.

Relationships and Communication

Students have the same needs and objectives in developing peer relationships today that we as adults had when we were their age. They are seeking to develop their persona separate from their family and want to feel validated by others. In previous decades, the experiences that are part of this maturation process might have taken place in physical locations like the mall or skating rink. Today they happen in both face-to-face and online interactions.

Although the desired outcomes are the same, the stakes are different for today’s students because of online communication. Messages are permanently recorded and spread in ways that were not possible before technology. Tone is sometimes lost without the visual cues used in face-to-face communication. Communication is 24/7 thanks to our always-on devices and pervasive wireless internet access. And, it’s hard for teachers, parents, and other adults to keep up with the ever-changing ecosystem of social media applications. The advice that has been given to adults for many years still applies - talk to students, listen to what they have to say, and model the behavior you expect of them.