With National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) coming to an end, it’s important for both educators and parents to remember that cybersecurity is a skill that can be taught all year long. Digital Citizenship, a concept that helps teachers, parents, and technology leaders guide children on how to use their technology, is an important piece of the puzzle.
To learn more about the practices of digital citizenship, we spoke with Dr. Kelly Mendoza, a Digital Citizenship expert with Common Sense Education. During our conversation, we explored how children become good digital citizens both at home and in school.
“If a parent is always on his on her device, it makes the child think that this is a normative behavior and that they should always be giving their attention to media and technology,” said Mendoza. The teachings of Digital Citizenship start at home with parents acting as role models. With babies swiping devices, it’s important to implement a media balance between screen time and other time, she said.
In kindergarten, students are taught the importance of safety while online. Realizing that sharing information leaves a trail, is an important step to building a digital citizen. Along with kindness, children are taught safety in sharing – what is okay to share, and what is risky like addresses, phone numbers, and school names.
“Part of digital citizenship is learning to be careful with our data online,” explained Mendoza. As students get older, the focus is privacy and security. Students learn how companies use their data by reading privacy policies and are “taught to avoid scams like clickbait and phishing.”
“The digital world is made up of real people, making real decisions, with real behaviors,” said Mendoza. It’s important for people of any age to remember that while online, they are interacting with people and steps need to be taken to “protect your own information and other peoples data.”
Digital Citizenship is a broader set of skills with cybersecurity in the mix that make a student digitally prepared. “Cybersecurity is a piece of this, but Digital Citizenship is a broaden set of behaviors,” said Mendoza.
Whether a kindergartner on a tablet or a 30-something working in an office, Digital Citizenship and cybersecurity are good practices to ensure safety while online. In the digital age, seemingly everything is connected and poses cyber risk. To learn more about cybersecurity and digital citizenship, check out these free resources.