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Digital Citizenship:
What Students Know About It

March 2024

In our more and more digital world speaking about digital citizenship has become unavoidable. But, are we sure we know what it really is? As teachers, every year we have to plan teaching units of civics learning for our students. The aim is to help them become good citizens by adopting daily good habits: they learn how to respect the environment, they study some important laws about the human rights, etc. More and more students nowadays are involved in bullying and - with an ever increasing use of mobile phones - in cyberbullying episodes. That’s the reason why they need to be properly informed on these topics, on their causes and on both their psychological and – sometimes - legal consequences. They are not aware of the multiple risks they are exposed to while surfing the Net; moreover, they are completely unable to face them. Therefore dealing with digital citizenship becomes essential for them.

But what do our students really know about it? Or better yet, do they know what it is? That’s what we asked them in our survey and the answers were surprising!

The Partnership School, Battaglini, interviewed a number of students (those present at the time of the interview) from various third, fourth and fifth year classes, belonging to different subject areas, aged between 16 and 19.

The question was: “Do you know what digital citizenship is?”


We found interesting to report some of the most common answers or definitions they gave us:

3rd grade students

  • “Rights and duties of citizens through the use of the internet”

  • “The way to behave on the Internet”

  • “The correct use of social networks”

  • “Rules for civil behaviour on the web”

  • “To be able to use technological means”

  • “Our Internet Profile”

  • “Digital Identity”

  • “Technological skills”

4th grade students

  • “Public Digital Identity System” (in Italian SPID)

  • “A middle ground between civic education and digital education”

  • “Something that helps you access digital data”

5th grade students

  • “To know how to manage the IT companies”

  • “Communicate and get to know people on the social media”

  • “Manage the social relationships on the Internet” 

  • “The ability to use the Internet”

  • “Digital skills”

  • “A status which certifies that someone is part of a nation”

  • “Safe browsing on the Internet against haters and cyberbullying”

As we can see from the answers given by our students, there is still a sort of uncertainty about what digital citizenship is and about what its objectives/goals are. One more reason to introduce Digital Citizenship Education at school.

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