Introduction:

Education must impart knowledge and help the students become empathetic and responsible human beings of the future. Schools play a major part in imparting knowledge and moulding a better version of the students. Education doesn’t stop with textbook education; it should also include how to conduct themselves in the world and prepare them for the world. The students must be able to adapt and accommodate to the fast-changing world. For instance, our parents had a certain level of exposure in terms of interpersonal relationships, people, culture, and history. In our generation, technology was starting to pick up and our parents oversaw what we consumed and how it affected or impacted us. Whereas, the kids in the current generation are easily addicted to digital and technological advancement. The technologies have better control over the students than the parents.

Digital Citizenship and Digital citizens:

In this modern era, the world has apparently become smaller through the internet and the world wide web. Previously it would take two to three days for a letter to reach the other part of the country or a foreign country. A phone call to an outstation or a foreign country would cost a fortune. However, after the invention of the internet and the world wide web, it has become easier to reach out to any part of the world just by the tap of your fingers from the comfort of your home. In this digital era, computer literacy has become a mandate for people of age groups. People who inculcate the skill and knowledge to use the internet and the computer knowledge for productive outcomes and the betterment are called digital citizens. Digital citizenship – the term refers to the population/society that uses the internet and social media platforms for different activities like creating, collaborating, engaging, promoting and growing.

The school has a greater responsibility vested on them in teaching their students how to be responsible citizens and what are the pillars of the digital world. Educating the students at a younger age and imbibing a sense of empathy and responsibility will help them shape as better digital citizens of the tomorrow.

Why must students be aware of digital citizenship?

In the earlier days, the digital world was introduced to students above 15 or 18 years of age with limited exposure under parental guidance. However, nowadays even a 2-year-old has some form of electronic gadget with a screen, be it a mobile or a tablet. With classes happening online, kids are exposed to a lot of screen time in the digital space without adult supervision. So, it is important for the students to learn the know-how of digital citizenship so that they are able to use the power of the digital platform in a secured and controlled manner. By educating them about the dangers and potential predators of cyberbullying, content misappropriation, privacy, etc. the teachers and the parents are creating a better and safer individuals of the future.

Elements of digital citizenship:

The primary components of responsible digital citizenship are:

  • Digital etiquette

Etiquette means the way of behaviour, or the way in which one must conduct themselves. Digital etiquette is the way a student must conduct themselves online. Their attitude and the way they interact and respond to others will be a reflection of themself in the real world.

  • Digital communication

Communication is a very important aspect of the digital world. Students often forget that they are communicating in a virtual space where everything is accessible to everyone. This gives way to a lot of miscommunications while voicing their opinion. The web has given them a platform to communicate their ideas, opinions, and voice on important issues. However, it is the responsibility of the school to impart communication etiquette on a digital platform for empathetic digital citizens.

  • Digital literacy

Since the digital space is free to share any content, the students need to learn to distinguish between fake and real content. Without any proper checkpoint for the authenticity of the shared information, fake news can spread. The student must not indulge in sharing or creating such fake news that will impact them and society to a larger extent. A well-informed responsible digital citizen must possess digital literacy.

  • Digital laws and rights

Contents available on the internet or created in the free space are subject to a few fundamental laws and rights to protect and recognise the creator. Schools have the responsibility of teaching their students about content misappropriation and the laws governing the same. Content misrepresentation and plagiarism is a punishable offence according to the Digital media and technology bill of India.

  • Digital commerce

Money transactions online have become a necessity with the digitisation of money and e-commerce.  The transactions can happen through any government recognised application like BHIM or any third-party private application; like google pay, phone pe, or pay tm. It is vital to enlighten the students about the expectant digital fraud they should avoid and how to securely transfer money from one party to another.

  • Digital well-being

With every facility right from shopping, education, entertainment, medicinal help, and money transactions, it is easier to get addicted to the screens. The students must be aware of how to protect themselves and their personal information from being misused. The school must teach them how to be safe and secure for a better-digitised future.

Why is Digital Citizenship important?

The students of the present will be the citizens of tomorrow. It is important for them to understand the power of the internet and the world wide web. From a broader perspective, digital citizenship explores the dos and don’ts of the powerful yet very dangerous tool in hand. As with every other developmental discovery, the internet also has both advantages and disadvantages. It is vital to understand the disadvantages of the internet and digital technology.

Advantages of Digital citizenship:

  • People can collaborate, create, and ideate with the others across the world just from their living room
  • Simple tasks like report making and analysis become much faster and easier saving time for everyone
  • Sharing knowledge has never been easier before. Now anyone from one corner of the world can share their knowledge on a safe platform where people can access it and learn from the comfort of their home.
  • Easier availability of important events, and happenings around the world.
  • This pandemic had given rise to video conferencing technologies that help connect us virtually to our loved ones across the globe.
  • There are events, fashion shows, and marriages happening over video conferencing technology.
  • Digital technological development had made it easier for schools and educational institutions to impart knowledge to their students during difficult times. The internet and digital technology have made it possible to continue educating future citizens.

Disadvantages:

As the famous saying goes, ‘A coin has two sides, every development has both advantages and disadvantages. Digital citizenship also has both advantages and disadvantages . The digital citizens must be responsible enough to use the tool in a constructive way. Once information is posted on the world wide web it cannot be removed permanently without any footprints. It is more like a carving done on a stone; you can never really destroy it. The anonymity provided by the online world can be dangerous if utilised in a harmful way. Digital literacy is of utmost importance for young children who will grow to be the future of tomorrow. It is vital for them to understand the impact of the digital world and use them responsibly.

9 key p’s of digital citizenship- basics to secure digital citizenship:

The school is the first place where the students learn to be more responsible towards other students and the society. We at Ekya, one of the top schools in Bangalore, ensure to provide a holistic education that helps our students to become better individuals. Our teachers are well-trained to enlighten our students on the different aspects of digital citizenship and how to be responsible citizens. We teach the 9 Key P’s of digital citizenship as a base for further learning in the digital era.

The 9 key P’s are as follows:

  • Passwords

We teach our students how to effectively use passwords, whom to share them and with whom not to share the same.

  • Privacy

Privacy is how students can secure their personal information. We teach about how they can identify secured and unsecured websites and how to navigate around the same.

  • Personal Information

Personal Information of the student and the family and other related information that might lead to impersonating an individual must be secured and carefully revealed.  

  • Photographs

We teach our students about the photos they can share online and the data policy governed by the local bodies for the same. The students will learn to report any misuse of personal pictures or details to protect themselves and others.

  • Property

We teach them how to generate licenses for their work and how to protect them. In the wide digital space, it is only easier to misappropriate original content and cause copyright infringement.

  • Permission

When landing on a website there are different permissions asked by the website for accessing the personal information. It is important for the students to understand when, where and what to grant permissions for.

  • Protection

Protection is the technological software that is available against viruses, malware and ransomware.

  • Personal Brand

It is important for the students to understand the impact of the personal brand. The values they represent, how they are perceived and how it will affect their presence online.

  • Professionalism

The students learn the difference between academic interaction and their interaction in their social lives digitally. Both require a different etiquette to be followed.

Conclusion:

Be it Digital Citizens or Just citizens, we at Ekya, one of the best international schools in Bangalore, place our students on a global pedestal as better human beings and a leader. We believe that a responsible citizen in the real world will reflect in the digital world too. We conduct several workshops and classes that emphasise the need to be an empathetic, non-judgemental person for a better future.

Posted by Ekya

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