The 21st Century Students: Digital Citizenship & Internet Safety for the Classroom

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The 21st Century Student

Today's students have access to a plethora of digital resources and environments. Cell Phone, Mobile Devices, Computers, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat - are all resources that engage students. Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety are essential for students to navigate the resources safely. There is an important connection between school and home in regards to Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety. Parents may not be aware or may not have the tech savvy to understand the dangers. Open communication and sharing of resources allows for both home and school to be informed and diligent.

Marzano states, "Research suggest that students are not experts at finding information. Students have difficulty with selecting and modifying search terms, using keywords instead of natural language (sentences) when searching, narrowing their topics, using command language in databases, and planning their searches beforehand. Students also have trouble evaluating their sources for relevance and credibility." (Teaching & Assessing 21st Century Skills 2012)

A good digital student isn't just a student who is conscientious when interacting online in any regard. A good digital student is conscientious when to use what tool for what assignment or project. A good digital student has a keen understanding of digital resources and devices.

Today's students need to think critically in order to be good Digital Citizens. The quote below describes how students feel the internet works.

By Alan November
When I’m giving a talk to students about being responsible digital citizens, I’ll tell them, “You know, some day you might apply to college, or run for Congress—and you might regret something you posted online when you were young.” And there’s always one student who will say to me, “Mr. November, we’re not that stupid—we’re going to take those things off the Web before we apply to college.” (REALLY?) At that point, I pause the discussion. I show them a website called the Wayback Machine, and I call up some website that’s been gone for 10 years. There it is, live on the screen, as if it never had vanished. Typically, all of the links work as well.


This video is a good to show 5 - 12 th grade students to illustrate what a "mean" text is. Mean Text


  • Introduce Digital Citizenship Curriculum
  • Experience Digital Passports - 3 - 5
  • Secondary Lessons
  • Video Resources
  • Focus on guiding students
  • Resources

ISTE NETS For Students

3. Research and Information Fluency - Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

  • Plan strategies to guide inquiry
  • Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media
  • Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks
  • Process data and report results

5. Digital citizenship - Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.

  • Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
  • Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
  • Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
  • Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship

When & Where

Teachers are busy and curriculum demands make it difficult to add Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety (DC IS) into the classroom. Really, DC IS is part of character education. When there is any conversation online such as using Schoology or Edmodo, students need to be reminded of DC & IS. Post guidelines in the classroom (many can be downloaded from the internet or have students create).

This is a great resource to use when interacting online: Ten Ways to Use Discussions Forums to Promote Digital Citizenship

  • Character Friday - pick an element of DC IS to introduce, discuss, and interact
  • Project Based Learning - have student create a project on one of the topics of DC IS
  • DC IS Day or Week in which you will pull DC and IS into every conversation and activity
  • Highlight one aspect of DC IS a month
  • Think about each aspect - when you are writing a research paper - highlight Copyright and Plagiarism. When you are talking about online discussion, highlight Cyberbully and Privacy.
  • At the beginning of the school year when students are accessing computers or mobile devices for the first time, Safe Password is important.

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media offers free Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety. Each resource is accompanied by lesson plans, handouts, and assessment. Grades 3 - 5 can use the interactive Digital Passports interface. Grades 6- 12 can use the lesson plans, handouts, and assessments. Each lesson is aligned to Common Core Learning Standards and NETS Standards for Students. In addition, family resources are available for each lesson to create a cohesive tie between DC and IS at home.

Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Curriculum website

Printable Resources

Grades K - 5 1 - 1 Essentials Program Poster for elementary = Click here to download poster
Pause and Think Posters = Click here to download posters
All Digital Citizens = Click here to download posters

Grades 6 - 12 Photos and the Internet Poster = Click here to download poster
Digital Citizenship Pledge = Click here to download poster
1 - 1 Essentials Program Poster = Click here to download poster

Home & Family Common Sense on Digital Life Elementary School = Click her to download printable resource
Common Sense on Digital Life Middle/High School = Click her to download printable resource

iBook & App Resources

Common Sense Media provides curriculum in iBook and App format.

  • iBooks Textbooks - Downloadable (into iBooks App on mobile devices) Digital Literacy & Citizenship iBook Textbooks. Media rich includes videos, interactive lessons, assessments and more. Available in Teacher and Student versions.

  • Digital Passport-student.png Digital Passport for Kids App - $1.99 - Ages 7 - 11 - On Digital Passport, kids will find their favorite kinds of games and activities like platform games, tools for creating digital mashups, and other fast-paced gobble 'em up games, all geared toward teaching them important lessons about digital life. When kids complete all of the levels inside, they've earned a Digital Passport to online safety. Parents can rest assured that their kids will know how to search safely, create robust passwords, participate in online communities responsibly, and use mobile devices sensibly.

  • DigitalPassportTeacher.png Digital Passport for Teachers - $1.99 - Teachers - Teachers can set up classrooms and monitor student progress using teacher dashboards on while students access the game directly on their iPads.

K - 12 DC & IS Curriculum Resources


Common Sense Media offers three types of FREE Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship curriculum. Digital Passports for grades 3 - 5 is an online, interactive suite of engaging videos, games, and collaborative activities and can be accessed on a computer or a mobile device. Scope and Sequence for grades K - 12 provides a modular format with lesson plans, student assessment, and standards alignment. The Scope and Sequence can also be access via iBooks Textbooks.Common Sense Media Toolkits provide lesson plans, activities, videos, and parent outreach materials.

NEW! Digital Compass

Brand new to Common Sense Media, Digital Compass is a gaming situation that allows students grade 6 - 9 to explore how decisions made in their digital lives can impact their relationships and future. The free game can be found here Digital Compass. Digital Compass is free online and App based. For grades 6 - 9

Each character helps to illustrate a different digital dilemma in:

  • Cyberbullying & Digital Drama
  • Self-Image & Identity
  • Internet Safety & Privacy
  • Creative Credit & Copyright
  • Relationships & Communication

Digital Compass Educator Materials

Digital Passport

Digital Passport allows for educators and students to discuss several DC & IS topics as well as have students interact in game-like modules to reinforce DC & IS
curriculum. Teacher resources and introductory videos are available. For grades 3 - 5

Modules Include:

  • Twalkers - Communication
  • Share Jumper - Privacy
  • E-volve - Upstander (Cyberbullying)
  • Search Shark - Search
  • Mix-n-Mash - Creative Credit

Teacher Materials include printable educator guides, links to videos, family tips and printable workbook for students

Scope & Sequence

Scope & Sequence offers a full curriculum for DC & IS. Educators can use the full curriculum or use pieces to help students become responsible 21st Century learners. The resources are divided by grade level can content to offer age appropriate lessons, assessments, and interactions. Interactions for K - 12

  • Internet Safety
  • Privacy & Security
  • Relationships & Communication
  • Cyberbullying
  • Digital Footprint & Reputation
  • Self-Image & Identity
  • Information Literacy
  • Creative Credit & Copyright


Digital Bytes teaches teens digital citizenship through student-directed, media-rich activities that tackle real-world dilemmas for teens 13 +. Teens learn from the experiences of their peers then create collaborative projects that voice their ideas for making smart, safe choices online. Digital Bytes is a great resource for high school students and educators. It brings in real-world examples and advocacy. Students will become innovators, creators, communicators, and thinkers!

Digital Bytes is designed to engage teens in:
1. Media reflection 2. Media deconstruction 3. Media creation

Students Can Become:

  • Pioneer
  • Creator
  • Doer
  • Thinker

Digital Bytes Website -
Digital Bytes Facilitator Guide -


Toolkits are topical resources for educators to use with students.

Curriculum Toolkits:

  • Standing up, Not Standing By - Cyberbullying Toolkit for Educators
  • Girls, Boys, and Media: A Gender and Digital Life Toolkit
  • Common Sense on E-rate and CIPA - A Toolkit for Schools and Districts


EverFi is a free resource for educators to use a gamified experience to teach different topics such as digital citizenship. Go to Everfi, click on login, sign up, log in for the first time with your school code, then click log in. This feature is for grades 6 - 12 and you will need a school code in order to create an account.

EverFi Learning Platform includes numerous courses for students.

School Codes:
East Irondequoit Middle School - f3d386e6
Laurleton Pardee - c2eab1b4
Durand Eastman - d9c7877d
Twelve Corners Middle School (BR) - 3a0afd4b

Additional Resources

The following are resources for Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship.

Personal tools
Technology Services
Wiki Help