Digital Identity & Digital Citizenship

The Internet is 30 years old and everyone is reminiscing about THAT dial up  tone |
Image from

It is crazy to think about how these concepts of digital identity and digital citizenship have emerged and evolved over the span of my lifetime I remember first venturing online as a young teenager, using AltaVista to explore this new digital world. Those grinding, ringing sounds of the dial up connecting, the slow loading pages, getting interrupted when someone needed to make a phone call from the land line. How dare my search for sports statistics and images be inconvenienced! Aside from this post, my most recent online activities involved booking hotel rooms, paying my credit card, and doing some sports statistic related research prior to laying some money down on an online gambling site.

The questions raised this week called for an hard reflection for myself. What is my digital footprint? Am I a responsible digital citizen? How does my digital identity reflect my real-life identity? An excellent exercise for anyone, not just a grad student!

I do like to think that as I have aged, I have become more selective in what I put online and who I allow to see it. While I chalk some of this up to growing up, I also attribute some of these decisions to my career of choice. Someone once told me, “You are teacher. All of the time.” I have taken that to mean that what I put out there in the universe, digitally or otherwise, by trade I am seen as a shaper of the youth. This background has also forced me to really consider the trustworthiness of my sources of information and entertainment.

A lot of these beliefs do spill over into the classroom. While not explicitly teaching digital citizenship to students, the elements of it do surface as we use technology in the classroom. As mentioned by the article Kelly provided this week, the 3S framework of protecting, educating, and respecting ourselves and each other in our online activities is easy enough to connect with classwork. Doing so in a methodical, meaningful way, rather than as an aside or a “rule” can prove to be a challenge. Much like Treaty education or the inclusion of FNIM outcomes, there are many times where a lesson can be reflected on and find a teaching moment missed. That said, the aforementioned components of education have been increasingly easier to incorporate with the necessary supports put in place. Is digital citizenship and digital identity on this same road?

I see my own children’s acquisition of digital citizenship as being a part of the generation who will learn from an education system that is becoming more aware of the need, parents who have lived in the dramatic growth of technology, and a society that is becoming more saturated with tech. Durston, Kelly, Gunpreesh, and Gerry did a great job of highlighting how a multipronged approach should be able to influence the coming generation regarding digital citizenship and identities. Much like the physical world, educating children at a young age around digital citizenship is such an important step. I connected the Quick Digital Citizenship Activities to lessons that I learned growing up about being a solid member in my community, the difference being we are now focusing on the digital world. Safety in an online neighbourhood, how technology makes you feel, the power of words, rings of responsibility, private and personal information, what is cyberbullying, and how to read news online are timeless lessons with a digital twist on it.

2 Boy Sitting on Brown Floor While Using Their Smartphone Near Woman Siiting on Bench Using Smartphone during Daytime
Image from Pixabay via

Through the lens of an educator, I see two areas that could cause potential hurdles. One being buy in from home, and the other being funding and support from the Ministry of Education, and subsequently school divisions. Parent talks, as mentioned in the article about fostering digital citizenship, are a good way to bring the family and school together, using common language and providing tangible resources. To get the buy in at home, it is important that families are provided with usable information and resources not just ideas. Much like reading in the early years, home plays a pivotal role in fostering growth in the youth.

The report on Teaching Media Literacy in Europe provided many excellent points about exposing students to media literacy by identifying where and how policies would be beneficial. Policy is not a swift moving process, and in implementing the policies time would be an issue in ensure that the outcomes identified keep up with the rapidly changing world of technology. Another potential problem is funding. Curricula, support, resources, teacher education, and further research, while so very valuable to the digital literacy focus, will either require more financial resources or redirect current ones. What are we moving down the order to bring digital literacy and citizenship forward?

As the world becomes smaller through technology and globalization, digital citizenship and digital literacy become more and more important. Is there a realistic, tangible way to incorporate in into education and have the support of home and family?

4 thoughts on “Digital Identity & Digital Citizenship

  1. I agree Bart, I seem to feel like a teacher wherever I am, and this is something I am mindful of at all times whether on or offline. We have a social responsibility to show good citizenship in all realms. Good analysis of digital citizenship and identity, I also really enjoyed your presentation and video!

  2. I like that you pointed out how important buy in from home can be. I think this is especially true with younger kids – we can do a lot of teaching and support at school, but kids need to have support at him to continue their understanding of digital citizenship. This means that parents need to have a good understanding of it as well, and while some certainly do, there are some who do not. I think this has potential to be a pretty major roadblock, because kids pick up on what their parents model (good and bad).

    1. Yes! I too agree that home buy-in is critical. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have parents that were quite with the times in terms of technology and advancements and were able to help us out to ensure that we too were learning those practices. Not only were we learning things at school about DC, but it was also being reinforced at home which is critical for the teamwork dreamwork perspective. If parents haven’t been exposed to this before, it can be tricky to reinforce it at home. That’s why I strongly think that it should be a stand-alone subject that is mandatory to teach throughout the grades as technology is not going away and is only evolving, and our kiddos of tomorrow need to be prepared to deal with whatever is coming their way.

  3. I like what you said about our digital identities maturing as we do, Bart! I think we need to keep this in mind for teenagers and youth; they are not expected to act as mature adults “IRL,” yet we seem to penalize them when they make similar decisions online. This all ties back to the ‘right to be forgotten’ that Alec has touched on and looking at content from the past while keeping the context of that time period in mind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *