Digital Citizenship Week!

According to a Common Sense Media report, teens spend an average of nine screen hours a day and check social media sites 100 times a day! According to the Guardian, about one in every ten children today receives a mobile device by age five and fewer than one in 20 parents disable the data function on those mobile phones. The average age is 11 for mobile device acquisition.

Both educators and parents alike need to be engaged and aware of what our youth do on and with digital and online resources.  On the Edutopia website there are recommendations for Digital Intelligence Skillsets for different grade levels. They say, for instance, that upper elementary students should be able to:

  • Generate safe usernames
  • Discuss the difference between personal and private information
  • Explain why there are logins and passwords for some hardware, software and websites
  • Describe why stealing information and other people’s creations is the same as stealing tangible items
  • Use technology to explore personal interests
  • Demonstrate to others how to use technology tools in ways that assist rather than prevent learning

Once in middle school students should begin to understand:

  • How to start gathering research both online and offline
  • How to interact within digital spaces (i.e. a Google doc, Google site, or Schoology LMS)
  • How to properly find and cite digital media (creative commons, Google docs, research tools)
  • How to discern between positive and negative use of digital spaces and the possible consequences of inappropriate behavior

Our Pierce County Library system recommends teaching the Pause/Stop/Play strategy to our youth:

Pause (and use wisely)

  • Technology can be a very powerful learning tool, but it is not a teacher or a parent. Use technology to enrich your child’s life by being choosy and making the most of screen time. The best tip is to try out the app, game, or program before introducing it to your child. Then, the best practice is, is to use the technology with them.  

Stop (and be selective)

  • Technology and how we use it are constantly changing, but “more” or “newer” aren’t necessarily better. In fact, too much screen time can be harmful for young children. Be in control.
  • Be choosy. When selecting media for your child or student, ask yourself: Does it engage my child? Does it invite my child to participate or ask him to do something? Is it educational and informational? Is there violent or adult content? Is it really educational or simply labeled educational?

Play (together)

  • Use the “app” or game before introducing it to your child. Then, use the technology with them.
  • Young children learn best from interactions with real people and hands-on activities with real things. They learn by doing – not by watching. Turn off the electronics and read, play and just spend time together.
  • Review and reinforce the content from the TV show/video/game at a later date. Repetition is important for young children’s learning.

Josh Weisgrau in an Edutopia article calls for teachers and students to use these criteria when thinking about how to use online services and technology:

  • Publish – Who is this for?
  • Critique – Why are you making this?
  • Create – What are you making?
  • Curate – Why are you watching this?
  • Consume – What are you watching (or playing, listening to, etc.)

The article has excellent details and examples of these criteria.

We know that technology can be a valuable learning tool both at school and at home. When children understand the importance of digital citizenship and responsible digital use, technology can open the door to a world that otherwise would not be available. Whatever strategies families and teachers employ, just start now, no matter what age our children/students are, we need to continually work on ensuring effective use of technology, limiting screen time, monitoring what they are doing, and engaging in their activities. And know that one of the most impactful things we can do as educators and parents is model and promote healthy use and expectations for ourselves.


Resources not listed above:

List of Acronyms Teens Use on Social Media from CNN:

Common Sense Media with Resources, Family Guides, Top Picks, Blogs and more:

“The Path to Digital Citizenship”, Edutopia,

Edutopia’s page on Digital Citizenship:

CTREX Review of Applications site when wanting to research apps and software, will give you good, basic information without needing to subscribe (but have more detail provided with subscription):

Family Time with Apps: A Guide to Using Apps with Your Kids (a downloadable PDF version available):

“5 Myths About Young Children and Screen Media Inforgraphic” from Zero to Three:

Managing Screen Time posters with the Pause, Stop, and Play strategy (in English and Spanish):

Brochure about Pause, Stop, and Play Strategy and Recommend Apps for young children from Pierce County Library:

Privacy Rights Clearninghouse:

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