Real Talk - Digital Citizenship Focused on Teens

Engage students in thinking about their own digital selves through game-based lessons focused on the technologies that they use.

Photo of James Fester
31 50

Written by

Updated 3/18 - Was at a great tech conference this weekend (CUE 18) and had an idea for another DigCit project, this time about social media influencers and are they a good or bad influence? I think a lot of students follow certain YouTube and Social Media channels without really thinking about what who they are following says about them. Would love suggestions on what to do about this. 

Updated 3/10 - Got an exciting opportunity to lead a short training on digital citizenship and got some good feedback on the lesson I have shared previously. Will be revising it within the next few days to share what I learned. 

Updated 3/6 - Trying to figure out where the intersection of digital literacy and digital citizenship is. There was a suggestion that I expand this project to include important digital skills and literacies, but not sure if anyone has a list of  "core digital literacy skills" Here is what I have;

-social media savy, information evaluation, powersearching, media curation and creation, publishing/sharing content, communication, computational thinking. 

Not ready to put "coding" up there, but that was suggested. Not sure all digital learners need to be code monkeys so long as they understand logic-based though. 

Updated 3/2 - Got a great resource on social media and teens from a fellow contributor that I had to share!

Great information on tech and teens!

Updated - 2/28

Here is a sample of the curriculum I've put together. It is a lesson on the importance of thinking before you post/text and the problems with online communication.

Enjoy! Please post comments or applaud my idea if you like what you see and want more!

Updated - 2/26

I've been tasked by my school to put together a presentation about the current state of Digital Citizenship at a national level. Will be putting the presentation up in the next few days for folks who are interested. Stay tuned or comment if you have suggestions for the content! 

Updated - 2/22

Someone asked for a topic list for my unit. There are the first four lesson topics. Would be interested if anyone else wanted more details or had ideas regarding one of them?

- Effective Online Communication

- Digital Footprint: Representing your Best Self

- TL;DR: Understanding License Agreements

-  Think Before You Post: Digital Empathy


Original Post

As more and more schools and teachers come to understand the importance of digital citizenship, the need for engaging and student-centered lessons will become more and more apparent. But how do you get a teenage, who may not be interested in anything sometimes, to be interested in issues surrounding digital citizenship? With Instagram of course! 

By creating lessons based around technology and media platforms actually used by students, digital citizenship is put back into their sphere instead of it being just something that "teachers have to tell us" They can use their own devices, their own accounts, and their own information during the lesson, bridging the gap between the simply theoretical and authentic. By the end of the lesson their actual digital profile becomes stronger and more well-understood. 

Having already created three lessons for ages 6-12, issues around digital footprint, online communication, and privacy are addressed at their level using actual examples from things they use every day. In this way, digital citizenship is relevant and immediately helpful, and not something they dread any longer. 


Share research or student experiences that informed your idea!

I've created a series of lessons that my school for its 6-12 grade program that use technologies that students actually use regularly (social media, game platforms, popular websites) to teach them about issues like digital literacy, cyber citizenship, and digital safety.

This inspired (1)

Digital Dynamo


Join the conversation:

Photo of Paul Kim

Hi James:

First of all, thanks for participating in this collaboration between the Teachers Guild and ISTE. We really appreciate your contribution!

We’re in the last week of the build phase of the challenge on digital citizenship so it’s time to fine tune your idea before final voting begins next week.

Here are some things to consider as you continue to build on your idea:
- is your idea clear and will it inspire action from other teachers?
- would it be easy for a teacher to incorporate your idea about digital citizenship in their classroom?
- does your idea include some component of research and are there shareable resources?
- is your idea student-centered and does it promote agency?


Photo of James Fester

Hello Paul,

Thanks for the message. I have been trying to refine my idea but honestly I'm not sure I will have anything worth posting in five days. I have run into some design roadblocks that I was hoping i'd be able to go over with a design thinking coach as with previous Teacher Guild design challenges, but it looks as though you no longer use the mentor model, which is disappointing. I'll continue to work on my lesson guide, but it may not be "show ready" within the allotted time. Sorry :(

Photo of Paul Kim

Hi James. This is good feedback as we were just discussing the role of mentors in challenges a few days ago. As an ongoing learning experience, there are different types of tests being done around how challenges operate. If you would like a mentor at this point, we can connect you to someone but I understand if it is too much of a press. Thanks again for sharing, both your idea and the feedback on mentors. Paul

View all comments