Moral education is generally an accepted part of most school curriculum, particularly in the formative younger years. This programs are still highly important, but many could use an update for the 21st Century. “Looking to the future, today’s youth will encounter technologies and face choices that will seem unimaginable even today. Anchoring their digital literacy in a moral construct is critical for providing context and helping them develop safe and responsible decision-making skills” (Dotterer, Hedges, & Parker, 2016, p. 58). These two citizenships do not need to be isolated, but instead, digital citizenship skills can easily be paired with traditional traits to bring lessons into the 21st Century. Some examples:
Honesty: Could be paired with the study of creative credit & copyrights to discuss stealing, just as one would in a physical world situation.
Trustworthiness: Closely aligns with an information literacy study about how to evaluate what information is trustworthy: finding sources, evaluating reliability, fact-checking, and more. This could also easily scaffold on top of the above honesty lesson to include citing your own sources, so you remain trustworthy.
Kindness: Anti-Bullying campaigns have long accompanied kindness focused traits, and there is not reason that cyberbullying isn’t been taught as a connected part of any bullying program.
Caring: Building happy and healthy friendships in no longer just based on personal interaction, it is also based on digital interaction. So, friendship allows many opportunities to address Relationships & Communication.
Integrity: Integrity is intrinsically tied to how you represents online, and for students today, their integrity will be tied to pictures and posts of the past as well. So, integrity could easily be paired with a Digital Footprint & Reputation lesson or unit.
Self-Esteem: Is literally Self-Image and Identity, and just like with all the above, it no longer takes the form of pictures in magazines. It is images and messages everywhere. More than ever, in a world that tells us we can do anything but be good enough, do kids need instruction on had to appropriately form their identities.
Safety or Courage: Both are important traits that are tied to both internet safety and privacy. Our kids need to be warned about phishing tricks the same way they need to be told never to take candy from a stranger.
All of the above are just quick examples, and the list and pairings could be done so many ways. The message is the same though. The core of any strong digital citizenship program is its implementation into daily life, which is easily achieved through a character education program.
Dotter, G., Heges, A., & Parker, H. (2016). Fostering Digital Citizenship in the Classroom. Education Digest, 82(3), 58-63.