The following is adapted from the book Growing Global Digital Citizens (Crockett & Churches, 2017). It features a discussion of Primary School digital citizenship guidelines, along with notes on why each one is important to consider.
Since the Global Digital Citizen Foundation published the digital citizenship agreements under the Creative Commons license, thousands of schools have used them as foundations for their own programs. In this article, we’ll look at the digital citizenship agreements for primary (elementary) schools. In addition, we’ll also discuss why each of these Primary School digital citizenship guidelines is important. You can also visit the resources section of our website to download them.
The guidelines in these agreements rely on having an understanding of Information Fluency. This defines a learner’s ability to interpret information, extract knowledge from it, and perceive its meaning and significance. Developing Information Fluency begins in Primary School, and these digital citizenship guidelines can nurture it.
The GDCF’s Primary School Digital Citizenship Guidelines
The Primary School digital citizenship guidelines are worded as I will and I will not statements that the students can understand. Such statements address students taking steps to look after themselves and others while online, and establish the importance of respecting property.
Looking After Myself
1. I will only go on the computer when I have permission.
Why is this important? Seeking permission from teachers or parents teaches students a few crucial concepts. First, they learn to be mindful about sharing property with others (as is case with school technology). Second, they gain a sense of how to properly manage their technology time, rather than wasting time on the computer.
2. I will only go to pages I am allowed to go to.
Why is this important? Students must adhere to policies regarding which pages are safe to visit. The teacher should make a list of both safe and unsafe pages. This helps students gain an awareness of the fact that there is unsafe or inappropriate content online. Also, it encourages a sense of discipline and self-regulation as they do online work. These same practices can easily translate to home environments as well.
3. I will only share pictures and stories about myself when my teacher tells me to.
Why is this important? This helps students understand that only certain things about themselves should be shared online. Both teachers and parents can help guide students to understanding what would be considered too much information. The idea is that they learn self-discipline and self-regulation when sharing information about themselves. Preserving a good digital footprint by only posting acceptable information and not something that may hurt them in the future—chances for employment or acceptance into a college or university, for example—is essential.
4. I will talk to my parents and teacher about all of my online friends.
Why is this important? It’s crucial that both teachers and parents know the people students are interacting with online. This guides students to an awareness of the importance of knowing who they are connecting with using social media (and other means) because sometimes people aren’t who they make themselves out to be online.
5. I will tell my teacher or parents if anyone is unkind to me on the computer.
Why is this important? The more students raise awareness about abusive online behaviors, the more likely parents and teachers are to take steps to work together in acting out against it. Telling adults about it shows students that it is not okay to abuse and insult people online. It teaches them to always be respectful, and teachers and parents can guide students toward an awareness of how abusive online behavior can hurt other people and bring consequences to the abuser. Students also need to know which people and groups they can go to for safety and support should they become victims themselves.
Looking After Others
1. I will only say nice things about people.
Why is this important? By practicing this every day, students learn how to exercise the capacity they have to empower others through kindness and sensitivity.
2. I will ask before I share a picture or story about a person.
Why is this important? This is all about teaching the importance of respecting other people’s privacy and personal boundaries. Parents and teachers can guide students to an awareness of how posting information about others online without their consent can be hurtful and disrespectful.
3. I will only go to places that are nice and I will tell my parents or teacher if I go to a place that is nasty, unkind, or rude.
Why is this important? Accidentally visiting an online (or offline) environment that is nasty or unkind can be damaging to young children. The sooner parents and teachers know about it, the sooner they can provide necessary counseling and direction, and help the student understand what happened. In this way, students learn to be safe and can also learn the importance of warning their friends not to go to these bad online places.
Looking After Property
1. I will not download movies, games, or music.
Why is this important? Students get an awareness of how easily intellectual property can be stolen and shared. This guideline offers them an introduction to digital piracy.
2. I will check that the information I get online is correct.
Why is this important? Teachers and parents can capitalize on primary school students’ natural sense of curiosity and growing reading skills by teaching basic research and fact checking, which are parts of information fluency. Students can learn to link topics to keywords and search for patterns in multiple sources to begin to see how online information can separate fact from fiction.
3. I will not leave rude or unkind messages on other people’s spaces.
Why is this important? Students learn the value of receiving and giving constructive and encouraging comments to people who share their creativity. It teaches students to treat others the way they want to be treated when they work hard to produce something they are proud of and want to share with a larger community.
Primary School Digital Citizenship Guidelines in Practice
We hope you’ve gained more insight into these Primary School digital citizenship guidelines and why they matter. There’s lots to think about when it comes to ensuring guidelines for safety and proper etiquette for our digital students in their tech-oriented lives. Ultimately the best way to guide students towards global digital citizenship practices is through proper guidance. That’s exactly what you’ll find in our best-selling book Growing Global Digital Citizens.
A Global Digital Citizen practices leadership, ethics, global awareness, and personal responsibility. There’s no better place to begin this than today’s classroom, and this book shows you how to do it right. We’ll provide a clear path for establishing a Global Digital Citizenship program in your school. Additionally, we’ll give professional guidance on how K–12 teachers and administrators can grow global citizens who are respectful and responsible critical thinkers equipped with the skills necessary for living in an interconnected world. You can learn more about the book or purchase a copy here.