Digital Citizenship in Kindergarten: The First Steps

A powerful question came up the other night at a community evening that has left me thinking. We were discussing digital leadership, digital citizenship, and the importance of a positive online presence with George Couros I know, pretty awesome.   When the floor was opened for questioning, one audience member asked “How do you start teaching digital citizenship in kindergarten?  What does it look like?”

This is something that I have thought about, researched and tried to support teachers with through classroom visits, video tutorials and my iTunesU course.  I believe that at such a young age, we need to start with the mobile camera.  Digital citizenship is really about respecting yourself and others while online.  Teaching little people to respect themselves and those around them through the lens of a camera means putting into practice some very basic rules when using portable device cameras in the classroom, or at home:

  1. Always ask someone before taking their picture.
  2. Show the picture to the person who you took it of, and ask if they are OK with it.
  3. Always take pictures of others ‘at their best’.
  4. And my favourite…the portable device camera can go anywhere – but the bathroom.

As adults, we need to model what appropriate camera use looks like and sounds like (by asking these same questions ourselves – even to our four year olds!)

Ask before we take their photo.

Ask before we share it out.

Capture moments of ourselves or others at our best.

Like all lessons to be learned by young children, taking the time to explicitly teach them how to use the camera (how to focus, crop, zoom, brighten, delete), will empower them to take quality photos that are meaningful, and that will become good conversation starters.  Use the camera roll as an opportunity to sit down with the child and do authentic retells and together, decide if anything should be shared or posted out.  This leads to modelling good practice of social media as the things we share out should reflect our best selves and a positive message.

These are very basic concepts that lay the foundation for positive citizenship, both online and offline.

I hope this helps, in a small way, to answer her question.




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