Week 1 Reflection

Although the definition of digital citizenship may seem straightforward, digital citizenship is a complex matter encompassing nine specific elements that provide the framework for how digital citizens should conduct their actions and interactions with others (Ribble, 2017).  In an attempt to define digital citizenship, one must have a foundation on what citizenship means. Merriam-Webster (n.d) defines citizenship as “the quality of an individual’s response to membership in a community,” while Google defines citizenship as “the state of being vested with the rights, privileges, and duties of a citizen.”  These two definitions highlight the ethical duty of all citizens.  It requires citizens to consciously understand themselves and others and educate themselves of a place and its cultural history (Heick, 2017).

Being a responsible citizen does not change when conducting ourselves online, in fact it is a mere reflection and extension of ourselves.  All of life is real. Every life is important, therefore how citizens choose to express their individuality shouldn’t matter as long as it isn’t harmful to others.  There is a level of empathy and compassion that naturally occurs in responsible citizenship. Safety and security then should always apply whether it be online or in the physical world.  Both worlds are realities of modern society therefore all individuals have the responsibility to keep themselves and others safe. Theft and assault are crimes no matter where they occur.  Though there are laws in place to prosecute criminals, citizens must take an educated role to actively protect themselves and their information in both realms. This educated role translates directly for concepts like etiquette, literacy, and commerce.  It does not matter if the context changes from the physical world to the digital realm, the behavior and expectations for responsible citizenship remains the same. Citizenship then must be taught in all schools. As educators and citizens, it is our duty to model appropriate behavior, respect for others and ourselves, and help our students understand how to behave in every environment (Fennewald, 2018).

The concerns and beliefs associated with citizenship will progress and grow more complex as technology advances, however the fundamental themes of citizenship don’t change.  Citizenship is a human rights matter. Because all humans are valuable, they must be treated as possessing value. “Social citizenship” coined by Davy (2014) amplifies the traditional beliefs (citizenship extends only to legal members of a society) and strengthens it by applying the Jeffersonian values of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as equal rights available to all members of society.

These are the values we need to be teaching in 21st-century schools.  Digital literacy is vital because all generations need to understand how to safely, respectfully communicate with each other.  This should not be accredited only to “digital citizenship” but to all aspects of being a citizen. Digital citizenship and citizenship are one in the same, so these values should be taught across all curriculums and advocated by all of us.  Citizenship applies to all, therefore we should persistently teach it.

Resources and References:

These are resources that have helped me understand the importance of digital citizenship and social citizenship:

Davy, U. (2014). How human rights shape social citizenship: On citizenship and the understanding of social rights. Washington University Global Studies Law Review, 13(2), 201-263. Retrieved from: https://openscholarship.wustl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1483&context=law_globalstudies

Davy’s article encompasses an extensive analysis of social citizenship and how it is framed by human rights. It consists of legal arguments before the courts and a thoughtful dialogue about citizenship. It is a scholarly and academic article in which Davy hooks in T. H. Marshall’s historical paper on social class and citizenship.

Fennewald, C. (2018, January 31). It’s not digital citizenship: It’s just citizenship, period. Retrieved from: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-01-31-it-s-not-digital-citizenship-it-s-just-citizenship-period

Fennewald challenges the notion that digital citizenship is a separate entity of citizenship.  She argues that citizenship should extend across all contexts regardless of digital or physical realms. Fennewald believes the word “digital” should be removed from “digital citizenship,” further disputing these values are one in the same. Digital citizenship is citizenship.

Heick, T. (2017, August 28). The definition of digital citizenship. Retrieved from: https://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/the-definition-of-digital-citzenship/

This is a valuable resource when teaching students how to compare and contrast the similarities between citizenship and digital citizenship.  Heick clarifies the concepts of citizenship in the digital realm.

Ribble, M. (2017). Digital citizenship: Using technology appropriately. Retrieved from: http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/

This digital resource maps out the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship in which Ribble clarifies the responsibility all citizens have when conducting themselves safely and respectfully.   Ribble also has his digital reference in book form, but the website references other beneficial resources to help in educating others of Digital Citizenship.

Citizenship. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/citizenship

Citizenship. (n.d.). In Dictionary. Retrieved from: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/citizenship?s=t

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