Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship

The updated Digital Citizenship definition - Digital citizenship is the continuously developing norms of appropriate, responsible, and empowered technology use.


-To lead and assist others in building positive digital experiences

-To recognize that our actions have consequences to others

-To participate in a manner for the common good

1.   Digital Access is about the equitable distribution of technology and online resources. Teachers and administrators need to be aware of their community and who may or may not have access, not only in school but at home as well. Educators need to provide options for lessons and data collection such as free access in the community or provide resources for the home.

Nine Elements

Digital Citizenship

Using Technology Appropriately

2.   Digital Commerce is the electronic buying and selling of goods and focuses on the tools and safeguards in place to assist those buying, selling, banking, or using money in any way in the digital space. Career and technical education use the tools of technology to show students the path for their future.

3.   Digital Communication and Collaboration is the electronic exchange of information. All users need to define how they will share their thoughts so that others understand the message. For students struggling to understand their place in the world, technology can help them find their own voices and express themselves.


4.   Digital Etiquette refers to electronic standards of conduct or procedures and has to do with the process of thinking about others when using digital devices. Teachers can include Digital Etiquette as part of the classroom rules or academic goals. Whether in the classroom or online, being aware of others is an important idea for everyone.


5. Digital Fluency is the process of understanding technology and its use. The better educated or “digitally fluent,” students are, the more likely they are to make good decisions online, like supporting others instead of making negative comments. Digital literacy includes the discussion of media literacy and the ability to discern good information from poor, such as “fake news” from real news.  


6.   Digital Health and Welfare refers to the physical and psychological well-being in a digital world. Technology provides many opportunities and enjoyment, but knowing how to segment use with the needs of ourselves and others is key to a healthy, balanced life. Educators, especially in 1:1 schools or classrooms need to ask the question of how much screen time is appropriate for students. Common Sense media has developed a guide on this topic.

7.   Digital Law refers to the electronic responsibility for actions and deeds and has to do with the creation of rules and policy that address issues related to the online world. Just as in the real world, the online world has had to create structure to protect those using these digital devices from harm. Support for issues such as cyberbullying and sexting are available from School Resource Officers and other school counsel. Administrators need to come up with positive approaches to these issues in their schools and districts.


8.   Digital Rights and Responsibility are those requirements and freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world. This area of Digital Citizenship is about helping students understand that when they are provided opportunities, such as the access to the Internet and use of online products, they need to be diligent in helping others as well, such as informing adults of potential problems. Educators must help students understand that protecting others both online and in the real world are essential skills to have.


9.   Digital Security and Privacy is the electronic precautions to guarantee safety. Viruses, worms and other bots can be passed along from one system to another just like an illness. When using devices in school or at home, understanding and being aware of attacks and how to prevent them are important skills for today and into the future.



S3 Framework (Safe, Savvy and Social)


Digital Citizenship classifies nine foundational elements in the following three guiding principles: Safe, Savvy and Social (or S3).  The tenets of S3 are a way to support, as well as reinforce the framework of the themes of digital citizenship. Each theme/element encompasses three levels of support (Safe, Savvy and Social) which could (or should) be taught as soon as our children can first pick up a device and start to interact with it. The first guiding principal; Safety, focuses on protecting yourself and protecting others and creates the base of digital citizenship. The next is Savvy in which focuses on the concepts around educating yourself and connecting with others.  These concepts build upon the concepts of Safety. And finally, the Social guiding principle commits to helping everyone make decisions exemplifying our commitment to respect ourselves and respect others. It is here that we fully realize the possibilities of the online experience.


Safety - Protecting Digital Citizens [being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury to yourself or others]

Technology is changing students coming to our schools which in turn moves education.  The tools that have been provided to students and faculty are making tasks such as creating or sharing information (e.g., a document, presentation or video) much more streamlined.  While technology affords users new opportunities the issues that occur are often are the lapses of judgment when the tool is not fully understood. These problems happen with moving to new and different tools that knowledge and rules are not fully established by those who use them.  This is an attempt to apply older concepts to new ideas, which do not exactly fit. Now is the time to make the shift to how we will be utilizing the technology for the future. It is important that educators now begin making alterations to how technology is viewed and integrated into the classroom.  The knowledge we share today will be passed along to the next generation.


- Protect Yourself/Protect Others


Savvy - Creating Educated Digital Citizens [wisdom and practical knowledge; the understanding to make good judgments]

In many school or district mission statements or goals there is often some mention of “being lifelong learners”.  So what does this mean in the age of digital learning? The growth and changing nature of technology teaches everyone that we can never stop learning.  And with the opportunities that these tools provide why would anyone?  Technology has opened the possibilities of how to learn new skills and our responsibility to understand and maximize the potential of these tools.  There has been an expectation that children innately understand technology since they were born in a time of expanding digital information. Children do show a willingness to use these technologies where adults may approach with more anxiety.  It has also been discovered that device and app developers are creating these technologies to make them intuitive, “so that even a child could use.” ​

- Educate Yourself/Educate Others



Social - Respecting Yourself as a Digital Citizen [creating cooperative and interdependent relationships and understanding of others]

When discussing the topic of digital citizenship, digital health, digital safety or whatever it may be called in your school or district there are certain universal themes that seem to surface and be at the heart of the issue.  Whether it is through topics of cyberbullying, viewing (or posting) inappropriate content, or plagiarism these and other topics of concern that are discussed most among parents and educators. This section geared towards the “social” element defines the general topic of digital citizenship and its main elements of discussion.  Humans are social by nature.  People choosing to group with others like themselves in cities, states, and countries.  As members of a community we tend to connect with those like us. This can be the difficult aspect of trying to interact with others online, everyone is given the opportunity to join this thing called the Internet and even though we try and stay with those most like us, it is almost impossible not to bump into others that want to try and change our minds, our beliefs.

- Respect Yourself/Respect Others



Go to the Progression Chart Page to learn more about implementing these elements into the classroom.


Language Translations of Nine Elements
Portuguese Translation
- Nove Elementos da Cidadania Digital

http://www.miudossegurosna.net/nove-elementos-da-cidadania-digital.html (HTML Version)

http://miudossegurosna.net/MSNN-NOVE-ELEMENTOS-DA-CIDADANIA-DIGITAL-v1.pdf (PDF Version)

Italian Translation - I 9 elementi della Cittadinanza Digitale 

http://ilgeekinblu.blogspot.it/2014/06/i-9-elementi-della-cittadinanza-digitale.html