The Many Definitions of Digital Citizenship




According to Terry Heick of Teach Thought (2018), digital citizenship for educators is “The quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” Ribble speaks of all nine elements of digital citizenship, including Digital Access, Commerce, Communication, Literacy, Etiquette, Law, Rights and Responsibilities, Health and Wellness, and Security. Ribble explains all of the elements in 256 pages that could be a book study on its own as professional development in many institutions. Ribble summarizes it into this definition “Digital citizenship is the continuously developing norms of appropriate, responsible, and empowering technology use.” The Digital Citizens Conference (n.d) states that “Digital Citizenship” is an umbrella term for all digital topics. A good digital citizens can use technology while keeping themselves and others safe. Technology is used to attack others emotionally, socially, financially, physically, economically, and mentally. It is an excellent tool for learning, but as good digital citizens, we have to make wise choices to keep ourselves and others safe.


Ribble speaks of all nine elements of digital citizenship, including Digital Access, Commerce, Communication, Literacy, Etiquette, Law, Rights and Responsibilities, Health and Wellness, and Security. Digital Access speaks of having equitable access to technology. Digital Commerce discusses purchasing goods and services online.

Digital Communication discusses just that clear and concise communication in the digital age.

Digital Literacy speaks about the process of teaching technology intelligence. Digital Etiquette speaks about the code of conduct online.

Digital Law discusses the legal elements of technology. Digital Rights and Responsibilities tells of all the freedoms and rights given online. Digital Health and Wellness discusses overall health in the digital age.

Digital Security is guided to be safer in the digital age.


The three categories that continue to group the elements are 1. Student Learning and Academic Performance, which include Digital Literacy, Communication, and Access; 2. School Environment and Student Behavior includes Digital Security, Etiquette, and Rights and Responsibilities; and 3. Student Life Outside the School Environment includes Digital Health and Wellness, Law, and Commerce.


The 11 principles that Ribble outlines how schools can promote the Character Education Partnership(CEP)( Character.org), which is similar to Ribble’s 9 Elements in the book as follows: 1. Ethical Performance, 2. Defining Character, 3. Character Development, 4. Creating a caring community, 5. Moral action, 6. Challenging Academic Curriculum, 7. Self-motivation, 8. Ethical Learning, 9. Shared leadership, 10. Engaging stakeholders, and 11. Culture and Climate. These principles overlap Ribble’s Digital Etiquette, Health and Wellness, and Security to develop character in students to sustain them throughout life.


The most critical aspects of digital citizenship that I think are the most important are the 11 Principles because a character will drive good citizenship.


References and Resources


Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know. (3rd ed.).

Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology.

Heick, Terry, (2018). The Definition of Digital Citizenship. Teachthought.com. Retrieved on

March 6, 2022, from The Definition Of Digital Citizenship (teachthought.com).

The Digital Citizens Conference, (2022). Digital Citizenship Topic Strands.

Digitalcitizenship.com. Retrieved on March 6, 2022, from The Digital Citizenship Conference.

Digital Citizenship, (n.d). Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. Digitalcitizenship.net.

Retrieved on March 6, 2022, from Nine Elements (digitalcitizenship.net)

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