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Top 10 Guidelines for Digital Citizenship

A librarian from Hawaii has been charged by her administration to create a post of the "Top 10 Guidelines for Digital Citizenship." Since I am sucker for both top 10 lists and a long-time crusader for teaching kids digital citizenship *, I couldn't resist.

Here goes...

Top 10 Guidelines for Digital Citizenship

  1. Protect your online privacy.**
  2. Respect the online privacy of others.
  3. Protect your property.
  4. Respect the property of others.
  5. Respect the rules, values, and policies of your family, religion, community, and school.
  6. Understand the values of other cultures, religions, and communities.
  7. Build a positive online reputation and portfolio of work.
  8. Use online communications in constructive ways, doing nothing you would not do in a F2F setting.
  9. Evaluate the accuracy of any information you find or receive online - or share online.
  10. Maintain a healthy balance between your online activities and relationships with your physical world activities and relationships.

The Blue Skunk Golden Rule: Don't text when you drive, especially if you are in the car in front of me when the red light turns green.

OK, folks, what makes your "Top Ten" list of digital citizenship guidelines?

* Back in the day, I called them "safe and ethical use" guidelines rather than "digital citizenship," which I believe still more clearly describes what we are after. But I may have no one but myself to blame for the change. From the linked 1998 article above:

In direct or indirect ways, children begin to learn ethical values from birth. And while families and the church are assigned the primary responsibility for a child’s ethical education, schools have traditionally had the societal charge to teach and reinforce some moral values, especially those directly related to citizenship and school behaviors. Most of the ethical issues that surround technology deal with societal and school behaviors and are an appropriate and necessary part of the school curriculum.

** The first five of these are revisions of Johnson's 3 P's of Technology Ethics (from Learning Right from Wrong in the Digital Age: An Ethics Guide for Parents, Teachers, Librarians, and Others Who Care About Computer-Using Young People, Linworth, 2003):

  1. Privacy - I will protect my privacy and respect the privacy of others.
  2. Property - I will protect my property and respect the property of others.
  3. a(P)propriate Use - I will use technology in constructive ways and in ways which do not break the rules of my family, church, school, or government.

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Reader Comments (6)

Thanks Doug, I think you hit the nail on the head with this Top 10! I have to agree that "safe and ethical use" guidelines is still the terminology that pops into my mind when I am teaching digital citizenship to new learners. For my youngest students I correlate being a "good citizen" in school or the community with being a good "digital citizen" online. Hopefully they get it!! :)

November 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

Thanks for the challenge, Cindy. You may see this as a column one day!


November 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I would add that if we use these in a teaching environment, we challenge (or require) students to explain what they would do to accomplish or satisfy each one.

There is a huge difference between giving students a list (and assuming they will apply it on their own) and giving them opportunity to apply the list as an assignment.

November 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Kenn,

Such a list is a reminder, not a program. Certainly could be used as a discussion starter.


November 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Good morning!

As someone who works for a school IT department, I can tell you that I A) appreciate you including schools in your list and B) wish to remind readers of RFC 1855, to use challenging pass-phrases, to use different pass-phrases on each site they use, to never assume the stranger e-mailing out of the blue really is a site administrator, etc. Admittedly, most of those could be subheading of "Respect your privacy" but they are points that are so often forgotten about or ignored the seem to merit repeating.


December 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErik Jepsen

Hi Erik,

Interesting that these guidelines are from 1995. Doesn't make them any less true, but just thinking how long we've been attempting to teach this stuff.


December 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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