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What is Digital Citizenship?
We at Natterhub are passionate about ‘digital citizenship’, and teaching pupils to be better digital citizens. But what does it actually mean?

What is Digital Citizenship?

In the words of Karen Mossberger at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘digital citizenship’ applies to “those who use the Internet regularly and effectively.” We use the internet in almost every part of our daily lives - playing games with friends; shopping for food and clothes; reading up on the latest news or keeping in touch with our families. A good digital citizen knows how to use these tools safely to participate in online activities and form meaningful, empathetic relationships with those they meet on the internet.

How does Natterhub teach digital citizenship?

Everything that Natterhub does revolves around the idea of turning children into resilient, empathetic and confident digital citizens. Our interactive lessons introduce concepts of digital citizenship to children by grounding them in real-world experiences or stories that children are familiar with. Early on, for example, we explore the concept of users hiding behind fake online avatars by looking at Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf who dressed up as her Granny! 

The central point of Natterhub is the news feed. As on many other social networks, the news feed becomes a central ‘meeting point’ for users, and pupils are encouraged to share and interact with other members of the community.  All the lessons, meanwhile, lead back to our Badges of Honour, which provide a tangible reward for pupils as well as a marker of their progress through the lessons. Teachers also have another way to encourage positive acts of digital citizenship - ‘boosting’ certain students in order to reward them with further badge power.

What’s the difference between digital citizenship and ‘real’ citizenship? 

It’s true that the digital world comes with its own unique set of rules. It has its own dialect and language in the form of emojis, and unique concerns like passwords, cookies and other means of protecting our private information. However,  Anne Collier, who works on Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board, argues that the line between ‘digital’ citizenship and ‘offline’ citizenship has gotten so blurred that there might as well no longer be a distinction. 

Our digital relationships are often extensions of our real-world relationships. We use social media to make plans with our friends, take photos while we’re together, and share them online after the fact to reminisce. Resilience, empathy and confidence are at the heart of good digital citizenship, but those traits are equally vital when we turn off our screens.

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