Technology is changing rapidly, and most schools are having a hard time keeping up. Some district administrators, teachers, and parents wonder whether it’s even worthwhile to teach digital citizenship.
At Yeti Academy, we’ve found that many concerns are based on misconceptions about what digital citizenship is and how it should be taught. Let’s talk about some of the most common digital citizenship myths.
Myth #1: Students are already tech-savvy enough.
Your students may be more tech-savvy than their teachers in some ways. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they know how to stay safe, treat others with respect, and otherwise act responsibly online.
Digital citizenship skills are primarily social-emotional skills, and they need to be explicitly taught. This subject area is about responsible decision-making and self-awareness, not just how to use apps and tools. Those decision-making and awareness skills take time and work to develop.
Myth #2: A one-time lecture on digital citizenship is enough.
Digital citizenship is a wide-ranging topic with a lot of nuances. It’s not something you can teach well in a single lecture.
Schools often react to major social media-related crises by bringing in a speaker and hoping their words will prevent future problems. In most cases, the speaker tells a scary story or three during a school assembly about what students shouldn’t do online, but doesn’t do much beyond that. The school doesn’t give students enough time to learn about other, equally essential aspects of digital citizenship.
Digital citizenship is just as much about what TO do as what NOT to do. Students need to learn and practice good digital citizenship behaviors, and that takes time. If they aren’t taught how to form better digital citizenship habits, they’ll likely just roll their eyes and continue on in the same way as before.
The best approach to digital citizenship is to add it to your regular curriculum. Students learn best when they have ongoing lessons that build on each other over the course of the year, semester, or quarter.
Myth #3: Digital citizenship is just a buzzword or a passing fad.
As long as the internet exists, digital citizenship will be relevant. While educators may not have used this term in previous decades, we were already teaching digital citizenship under different names (or at least, we should have been!)
Digital citizenship is all about teaching safety, respect, and healthy communication in online spaces. In an era when so many people spend part of their time online, it’s an essential school subject. The need for a digital citizenship program won’t go away anytime soon.
Myth #4: Digital citizenship is the same thing as digital literacy.
Digital citizenship and digital literacy are different topics, although they overlap a lot. While digital literacy focuses on teaching students how to use tools like Google Workspace, digital citizenship is all about safety and ethics.
Digital literacy is technical, and teaching it mostly involves giving students hands-on projects to do. Digital citizenship courses often include projects too, but they’re more discussion-heavy and are more about social-emotional skills than anything else.
Myth #5: Digital citizenship is the same thing as manners.
Online manners are important, but they’re only one aspect of digital citizenship. Digital citizenship is also about safety practices, responsible technology use, avoiding plagiarism, checking sources, and more.
Your digital citizenship curriculum should cover a wide range of topics, not just “nettiquette”.
Myth #6: Starting any kind of program is too much work for teachers.
Teachers are tired, overwhelmed, and often burnt out after the last few years of learning disruptions. We know they don’t need more work on their plates, but that doesn’t mean you should put off digital citizenship.
Digital citizenship is incredibly important for helping students stay safe and reducing cyberbullying. What’s more, some digital citizenship programs are easy to set up. That’s right, we said easy!
At Yeti Academy, we’ve created grade-appropriate digital citizenship curriculums for elementary and middle school students that come with all the teacher resources you could need. Our courses come with lesson plans, teacher notes, hands-on activities, tests, slide presentations, videos, and more.
Myth #7: Only an expert can teach digital citizenship.
It’s definitely easier for experts to teach digital citizenship, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones who can. If you have the right curriculum, most teachers can facilitate a healthy discussion about digital citizenship topics.
At Yeti Academy, all of our modules were designed by certified STEM teachers who have worked in a classroom, which means you get the best curriculum available. We understand the value of a strong, pedagogical tool. Often, teachers just need a great digital curriculum with videos, discussion guides, and other resources to help students coach each other.
Like we said before, digital citizenship is more about social-emotional skills than about how to use any one app or program. That means teachers of all backgrounds can offer insights and spark great discussions — again, as long as they have the right curriculum.
Myth #8: Digital citizenship programs should always launch at the beginning of the school year.
It’s good to start teaching digital citizenship as soon as you can. That said, there’s no reason you can’t start or add a digital citizenship curriculum later on in the school year.
Sometimes there are advantages to teaching these kinds of topics later in the year. Digital citizenship lessons sometimes encourage students to change their online habits, and some students may not want to change. But if they already know, trust, and respect their teachers, they may be more likely to listen.
Starting your digital citizenship program later on also means teachers can make use of already-established schedules and class routines. Teachers have a better sense of how each class learns best.
Myth #9: Your school or district needs to build its own program.
Many schools and districts have a strong mission and want to create as much of their own curriculum as they can. That approach might work well with an English curriculum, but social media and digital citizenship are another story. Even the most tech-savvy teachers typically don’t use social media in the same way their students do, and that makes it harder to build a relevant curriculum.
To create a strong digital citizenship program, you need cutting-edge expertise. Your digital citizenship curriculum needs to account for social media trends that change from grade to grade. Your school’s best bet is to work with a specialized ed tech team that can stay on top of those trends.
Once you have the curriculum in place, just about any teacher can teach digital citizenship. But the curriculum itself should be built by educators with highly specialized knowledge.
Try Yeti Academy’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum Today
Our Sports PR agency curriculum for grades 6-9 offers themed individual and collaborative projects based on digital influence topics. We also include videos that feature real-world teens. Our Super Citizenship curriculum for grades 3-5 uses superhero-themed videos, lessons, and an illustrated quiz to teach basic digital citizenship skills.
Try Yeti Academy for free today!