We are nearly two decades into the twenty-first century, and already we have seen the world shift and evolve in ways that few could have predicted. When the clock rolled over from 1999 to 2000, my best friend’s dad was left with a closet full of grain sacks and a shed full of water barrels. It’s laughable because the world has changed many times over since those days, and that wasn’t even terribly long ago. Thanks to the quickly changing landscape of time and technology, we are left to grapple with new complexities and new challenges that didn’t exist in the twentieth century.
As humans learn to navigate this ever-changing world, we are posed with new terms and new definitions that leave us uncertain in many ways because we cannot fully see the outcomes for those things which we are determining. Things that were simple and definable like citizenship now exist in a shade of gray. What does it meant to be a citizen versus a digital citizen? Are they the same? Are they related? Or are we stealing terminology where new terms should exist?
While Terry Hieck points out, citizenship and digital citizenship are “nearly the same thing” (2018), I believe that nearly is not enough. In fact, many scholars have pointed out that: “the very broadness of the term digital citizenship … presents an issue” (Polgar & Curran, 2015). The vagueness of the term forces us to look more specifically at the differences between the two terms.
Citizenship is defined merely as “a member of a community” (citizenship, 2018). However, I argue that digital citizenship is a significantly more weighty and complex term, and that in fact, citizenship and digital citizenship are not the same. Because understanding the concept of what is means to be a digital citizen “requires a certain level of background” (Polgar & Curran, 2015), I argue that a there are merely connected terms as best. The idea of digital citizenship incorporates a layering of terms like tech etiquette, responsible use, cyberbullying, and so many others that I believe this is not a straightforward or easily definable term. Our anchor text on this topic, “Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know,” points out that “Digital citizenship is about the changing nature of students and people in general with the rise of technology” (Ribble, 2015). This constant need for change and updating leads me to believe that the definition of digital citizenship should also be a living term that is updated to match the status and need of the times constantly and continually.
Thus my personal definition of digital citizenship is:
A set of character values to be exhibited in any digital/online setting that promote positive interactions with all people in the efforts of creating an online environment filled with integrity and responsibility.
citizenship. 2018. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hacker.
Curran, M. (2012, June). iCitizen: Are you a socially responsible digital citizen. Paper presented at the International Society for Technology Education Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX. Retrieved from http://www.gonevirtual.org/uploads/6/0/8/6/6086473/icitizen_iste12_paper.pdf (PDF: icitizen_paper_M_Curran.pdf ).
Heick, T. (2008). “The Definition of Digital Citizenship.” TeachThought. Retrieved on Februrary 21, 2018 from https://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/the-definition-of-digital-citzenship.
Polgar, D. R., & Curran, M. B.F.X. (2015). We shouldn't assume people know what digital citizenship is. Retreived fromhttp://www.teachthought.com/technology/we-shouldnt-assume-people-know-what-digital-citizenship-is/.
Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know. (3rd ed.) [Kindle Version]. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology.
Mrs. Autumn Riley
Native born Texan, Autumn Riley, is an educator-leader married to a dynamic high school teacher and mom to two wild little boys. When she isn't training for her next half-marathon, she spends time working on her sketch-noting and poetry.-writing. She is a Christ-follower and small group leader. All content is copyrighted to Autumn Riley. You may freely pin to Pinterest or link back to my blog. All other uses require permission. Thanks!