EDER 679.07: “Netiquette” & the Need for Digital Citizenship

Digital literacy teaching involves learning about technology (WikiHow, 2013).  This doesn’t mean only learning how tools functions; it also includes learning how to use technology in a respectful way, which is referred to as “netiquette”.   Netiquette is network or Internet etiquette, and it is defined as “…socially acceptable conduct in an online or digital situation” (Wikipedia, 2013, Etiquette-technology).

Technology offers many benefits to individuals; however, when used inappropriately, it can also cause harm.  Information put on the Internet is forever; people need to be aware of this so they aren’t embarrassed or put in danger because of poor choices.  The longevity of digital footprints makes the consequences of abusing technology like cyberbullying even more serious.  Educators have a responsibility to “…promote respectful online behaviours” (Harte, 2011, p.3).  “…Educators are the gatekeepers to what goes on in classrooms and are instrumental in cultivating a positive (or negative) school culture”  (Cassidy, Brown & Jackson, 2012, p. 520).  I want to cultivate positive technology usage so that my students (foreign trained professionals) know the cultural norms of technology usage, for a lack of understanding could affect employability.  Therefore, I have a responsibility to learn netiquette and inform my students.  I intend to insert micro lessons on netiquette and digital citizenship into my curriculum so that students become “…informed through research and learning from others”, and participate in “…respectful deliberation, and use of various media…to communicate with others, to move them to action” (Herrington & Moran, 2012).

Why do educators need to include netiquette in their media literacy curriculum?  Since technology has developed so quickly, people aren’t sure how to use it or how to appropriately interact with each other leading to cyberbullying and poor conduct.  I have witnessed people answering their cell phones or texting during meetings, taking pictures of people and posting them online without consent, texting message or answering phone calls while driving, sending offensive e-mails to co-workers, etc.  It seems that manners have gone out the window. People have a responsibility to behave appropriately and professionally in public.  According to Evans & Gerwitz (2008), “…e-professionalism involves behavior related to professional standards and ethics when using electronic communication” (Harte, 2011, p.3).

Learning how to appropriately use technology should be everyone’s concern.  How do teachers and parents tackle this important concept?  They should ask themselves questions such as:  What is digital citizenship, why is it important to teach, and who is responsible for teaching it?  Digital citizenship can be defined as “norms of appropriate, responsible technology use” (Ribble, 2013). It is important to teach because “…the lack of digital citizenship awareness and education can lead to dangerous student conduct including cyberbullying, so it is in the best interest of society to help students become better citizens (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011).  Ohler (2011) states that digital citizenship teaching is much like any other character education programs, which should be based on community defined values.  Ultimately, the first step in teaching digital citizenship is for educators and parents to act as positive examples and use technology appropriately.


Cassidy, W., Brown, K.N., & Jackson, M.  (2012).  “Under the radar”:  educators and cyberbullying in schools.  SchoolPsychology International, 33(5), 520-532.  Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ehost/resultsadvanced?sid=7e26c5cb-66e9-43e6-9763-id0775e3d0bf%40sessionmgr4&vid=9&hid=19&bquery=under+AND+the+AND+radar&bdata=JmRiPWVyzWMmdHIwZT0xJnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGI2ZQ%ed%3d

Evans, T., & Gerwitz, A.E.  (2008).  E-Professioalism dos and don’ts.  NALP Bulletin.  Retrieved from http://www.tourolaw.edu/cso/docs/eprofessionalism.pdf

Harte, H.  (2011).  E-Professionalism for Early Care and Education Providers.  Dimensions Of Early Childhood, 39(3), 3-10.

Herrington, A., & Moran, C. (2012).  Social Deliberation and Social Action.  Retrieved from http://digitalis.nwp.org/collection/civic-deliberation-and-social-action

Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J.  (2011).  Digital citizenship in k-12:  it takes a village.  Techtrends:  Linking Research And Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 37-47.

Ohler, J.  (2011).  Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age.  Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(1), 25-27.

Ribble, M.  (2013).  Digital Citizenship:  Using Technology Appropriately.  Retrieved from  http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/

WikiHow.  (2013).  Be a Responsible Digital Citizen.  Retrieved from http://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Responsible-Digital-Citizen

Wikipedia (2013).  Etiquette (technology)  Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etiquette_(technology)


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