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Developing Thoughtful "Cybercitizens"


Social Studies and the Young Learner Volume 16, Number 4, ISSN 1056-0300


What does it mean to be a citizen in a digital world where technology has facilitated global connections? The children of today are immersed in a digital age, and as increasing numbers of students go online, they require skills to securely and responsibly take full advantage of computers and the Internet. Despite the natural enthusiasm that many young people have for online activities, they are often unaware that the privilege of "cybercitizenship" requires skills beyond the technical capacity to search out information, engage in dialogue, or play games. Children need continued guidance to successfully manage the challenges associated with responsible use of technology. These skills include instruction on evaluating and comparing informational web sites, identifying commercial messages, protecting their identity and privacy, demonstrating responsible behavior online, and managing difficult situations that might be encountered in "cyberexchanges" such as chat rooms and discussion lists. Just as children are taught to be good citizens of their communities they can be taught to be responsible citizens of cyberspace. Many resources are available for integrating key ideas associated with cybersafety into the elementary social studies curriculum and fostering responsible citizenship on the Internet. A good place to start is a discussion that centers on this tenet: in cyberspace--just as in classrooms and on the playground--everyone needs to respect the rights of others. Students also need to understand that just like in the real world, misbehavior can have serious consequences. Some websites provide excellent information for teachers on these issues, and several are highlighted in this article. The most important thing teachers should remember is that they do not have to be information-technology experts to integrate activities that teach the basics of such cyber ethics in social studies lessons. Indeed, integrating cybercitizenship activities into citizenship education can, and should, be a natural extension of the social studies. (Contains 6 endnotes.)


Berson, M.J. & Berson, I.R. (2004). Developing Thoughtful "Cybercitizens". Social Studies and the Young Learner, 16(4), 5-8. Retrieved June 17, 2019 from .

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