Digital Citizenship

The concept of Digital Citizenship is about preparing young people for a world where technology is smoothly integrated in our lives. It helps users understand how to use technology appropriately – it’s about education and skills.

Digital citizenship is the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use.

In this section, you’ll find

1. The Educational Context

Education for digital citizenship is a vital component of Curriculum for Excellence. It helps young people develop the skills and experience outside the classroom.

“Young people are citizens of today, not citizens in waiting. For learners, education for [digital] citizenship is about developing the ability to take up their place in society as responsible, successful, effective and confident citizens both now and in the future.”

It’s vital for young people that citizenship education and support for engagement in community life through youth work should include digital citizenship and all that it entails.

In a study on the mental health benefits of social media services, Collin et al (2011) draw on a range of evidence. They emphasise that these positive aspects rely on a level of awareness of good ‘cyber-citizenship’ amongst young people:

“Importantly, the benefits of Social Networking Services (SNS) use are dependent on good Internet and media literacy: having the skills to analyse and create media content. Maximising the benefits of SNS and promoting Internet and media literacy may help protect young people from many of the risks of online interaction, such as cyber-bullying.”

Read more about this here.

For young people, to leverage the opportunities afforded by interpersonal communication online and avoid the associated risks, media literacy need to be renewed. This is important in supporting the positive value of social networking to promote mental health and wellbeing.

“A range of recent academic, policy and practice-focused work in the UK and internationally has identified a need for more focused attention on the role of digital literacies in enabling young people to more effectively navigate their way through an increasingly complex, digitally mediated world.”

2. Formal and informal learning

Online learning environments, personal devices and ICT in schools have the potential to improve learning outcomes. This is already recognised in Scotland and the UK. The review points to examples of how social media bring together students from diverse geographical areas or cultural backgrounds. Social networking between teachers and students is seen to improve rapport, motivation and engagement with education (Mazer et al 2007).

Social networking can assist young people learn and develop skills outside formal environments, including transferable skills relevant to the modern workplace (Notley 2009); collaborative skills and sharing content in communities of interest; and in understanding of citizenship. (Ito et al, 2006; Jenkins 2007).

As social networking participation can be personalised and controlled, it can be an important tool for those who struggle in traditional learning environments (Green, 2007) or have specific interests or needs, such as young parents (Notley 2009).

“We often wrongly assume that young people have a complete set of digital skills because they grow up surrounded by digital technologies. The skills that they acquire on the daily basis by using social networks and retrieving online content are not sufficient in the labour market. Required productivity skills can be acquired only by adequate digital education and training.”

Kestutis Juskevicius, EU Digital Champion Lithuania

3. Understanding Digital Literacies

The traditional definition of literacy is the ability to read and write or the competence in a specific area. This definition has expanded over the years: to engage with life in the city, citizens need to be able to use these skills to understand, think critically, participate in, and change the world around them. (UNESCO)

When applied to technology, it is traditionally called ‘Digital Literacies’. Read more about the ambiguity of the term: The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies.

There are number of components to online media literacy:

  • Critical content
  • Communicative and social networking
  • Technical
  • Creative content
  • Mobile media

The approach of ‘learning by doing’ helps young people develop online media literacy by creating, sharing and using online content that isn’t always part of the school curriculum.

4. iRights

iRights is a framework of five clear and simple principles to enable children and young people to access the internet creatively, knowledgeably and fearlessly. These principles translate the existing rights of young people under the age of 18 from the physical into a digital world context. The five iRights are:

  • The right to remove: to easily edit or delete online content they have created, and access simple and effective ways to dispute online content about them.
  • The right to know: to know who holds and profits from their information, what their information is being used for, and whether it is being copied, sold, or traded.
  • The right to safety and support: to be confident they will be protected from illegal practices, and supported if confronted by troubling and upsetting scenarios online.
  • The right to make informed and conscious choices: to engage online but also to disengage at will and not have their attention held unknowingly.
  • The right to digital literacy: to be taught the appropriate skills to use and critique digital technologies and be confident in managing new social norms.

A full explanation of each of the rights, how they are delivered and how they can be applied can be viewed at www.irights.uk. Young Scot is the lead strategic partner in Scotland for iRights so watch this space.

5. Digital Inclusion

Other programmes, like #notwithoutme led by Carnegie UK Trust are seeking to address the digital inclusion challenges of vulnerable young people.

In terms of addressing barriers to use, agencies like AbilityNet provide support to enable disabled people make better use of the internet, such as on issues like dyslexia”.

6. Want to read more?

http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/

Education for All Global Monitoring Report, UNESCO 2006, Chapter 6 – Understandings of Literacy

AyeMind Literature Review (2014) The potential of Social Networking

McGillivray et al (2015) Young people, digital media making and critical digital citizenship

Young and Well Collaborative Research Centre. The benefits of social networking services. Read online.

7. Reminder

Aye Mind does not offer direct support for mental health issues and is not continuously monitored for messages. If you need an ambulance, call 999. If you or someone around you is in distress or need immediate help, click here to find a list of services you can talk to.

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