Digital Citizenship:
            are you a digital citizen?

Introduction to Digital Etiquette

        The basic idea behind the topic of digital etiquette is "treat others how you want to be treated." From an early age, students are taught this golden rule. Whether at home, at the movies, at a grocery store or in school, students learn that there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to behave and treat one another. With the overwhelming emerging technology and its involvement in our daily lives, it is fundamental that students transfer that understanding of appropriate behavior into the digital world. Students need to know that their choices, their words and their actions in the digital world can truly have an impact on others. In addition, poor choices can lead to consequences and/or loss of certain privileges. Educators and parents must be role models for our students and discuss these issues with them. The students will be more successful if parents and educators are proactive in engaging in discussions and lessons so that students understand the rules of digital etiquette.
        Considering the needs of current students, it is important to recognize that parents and educators alike were not instructed on how to behave in the digital world because those opportunities were not yet available. Without the experience of these technologies and online resources, many parents and educators often do not realize the important rules children need to learn prior to participating in our digital world. Digital etiquette provides an insight for parents, educators and students as it addresses the appropriate conduct, the best practices for technology use and the consequences for misuse of technology resources. To become informed digital citizens, parents and educators must learn about this topic and the issues involved in order to address the topic with our students. It is a continuous learning process and as new technologies emerge, there is a potential for new issues to arise. By being informed and prepared for the digital world, students will be able to act responsibly, make appropriate choices, and enjoy the many benefits that accompany technology use.

What is Digital Etiquette?

        Digital etiquette is defined as "the standards of conduct expected by other digital technology users" ((Ribble & Bailey, 2007). Essentially, as a participant of a technology driven society, one is expected to demonstrate appropriate behavior and choices in the digital community as well as understand the impact and consequences of those choices. All digital technology users must be aware of others when using technology and understand how technology use can affect others.


        Think about being in the movie theater and a person's cell phone rings. Instead of turning the phone off, the person engages in conversation with the caller during the showing of the movie. This scenario is a common, yet inappropriate use of technology. Today, technology is everywhere. While technology offers many amazing opportunities for its users, it also requires users to follow etiquette guidelines. Turning a cell phone off during a movie is just one basic example of digital etiquette. Just as students are taught to conduct themselves in a given way at home, in school, and at a public place, students need to learn the conduct expected in the digital world. As the Web 2.0 technology emerges and new issues arise, educators and parents alike will have to work together to stay current with today's digital etiquette. Fortunately, many of the guidelines for expected behavior are common sense. Nonetheless, it is still imperative that we model this appropriate behavior for our students so that they learn from it and in essence conduct themselves in a similar manner.
        There are many issues related to this topic of digital etiquette. Students have to make responsible choices as participants in the digital world. These choices include viewing age appropriate websites, communicating with others in a courteous and respectful manner, respecting others' views and material, and using technology during the appropriate times and in the appropriate settings. In addition, students must avoid engaging in inappropriate behaviors such as harassing, threatening or flaming others, cyber bullying, posting or sharing personal and private information and using inappropriate language. Students must learn the etiquette for communicating online. They must recognize that what they say can have an impact on others even when they cannot see others' facial expressions. Joking and sarcasm are not easily identifiable and students need to be aware of the negative effects of cyber bullying and hurtful language. Simply using all capitals is a sign that one user is screaming at another and digital etiquette encourages others to avoid it if possible. These are serious issues that have serious impact. It is important to remember that students cannot just be told a list of rules and expectations for online behavior. They need guided instruction, guided practice, lessons and discussions and they need to see their parents and teachers, their role models demonstrating appropriate conduct. 
        Through today's media, the topic of digital etiquette has been discussed in many different ways. From websites for kids, to national television news programs, to our local schools, the importance of digital etiquette is apparent. Many websites for kids have created videos and other resources for students to learn about and understand digital etiquette. Television news programs such as Frontline have developed reports about digital parenting and the best practices for preparing our children for a digital society. Today's schools are creating best practices and policies through the use of a policy known as an "Acceptable Use Policy." These policies offer guidelines for students to follow including the expectations of digital etiquette, the rules for technology use and the consequences for violating the rules. Thanks to today's technology, parents and educators have access to all of these resources. Students will be able to participate in meaningful and worthwhile learning experiences using technology as long as parents and educators use available resources, learn about the issues and provide the students with an understanding of digital etiquette prior to engaging in the digital world.   


The following resources provide further information about the topic of digital etiquette. Some of the resources are useful for helping your children understand this topic. Other resources are for parents to learn more about digital etiquette.

Digital Etiquette Quiz -  Using this quiz, discuss with your children important facts to know about digital etiquette. You could take the quiz together or independently and then talk about the issues.

Questions and Answers - Here are some frequently asked questions by students and the respective answers provided by BrainPop. 
Frontline's Digital Nation - This resource includes tips for talking with kids about digital technology, digital parenting quizzes, polls, articles and videos about being a digital parent in a digital nation.

Ten Best Rules of Netiquette - This resource provides an explanation of the ten best rules of digital etiquette, often referred to as netiquette.

Digital Etiquette for the 21st Century - This article provides an interesting perspective on digital etiquette in the 21st century.

CyberSmart Curriculum - This resource provides lessons plans to educate students about many digital citizenship topics including digital etiquette.

Additional Information

Digital Etiquette Video - Watch BrainPop's Digital Etiquette video below with your child to learn more about the issues involving this important topic. Visit BrainPop's website for further information related to digital etiquette.