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Teaching students "digital citizenship"

Posted: 6:00 AM, Aug 26, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-26 18:29:57-04
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Kids and computers

PHOENIX — It has been a while since projectors, record players and boom boxes were considered classroom staples. These days in schools like Villa de Paz Elementary School in west Phoenix, students do a bulk of their learning on laptops and online.

"I use it for homework, I use it for going online and researching topics," said Mustafa Alshlhawi, an eighth grader. "I also use it for digital citizenship."

Digital citizenship is exactly like it sounds. Different districts may have different versions of it but the goal is the same, to make sure kids understand what it means to be a good citizen in the digital world.

"It's not just anymore about just the use of technology but rather what do we need to do to be responsible and respectful and safe at the same time," said Villa de Paz Elementary School Principal Belinda Quezada.

Quezada says even the kindergartners on her campus go through some form of digital citizenship. They cannot access their designated devices without it. The idea is to start early and dive deeper as they get older, knowing students are even more vulnerable when they are not at school.

"We can trust our software to catch a lot but we need to make sure our students are trained as well in protecting themselves," said Don Neville, a computer science teacher.

Topics cover everything from privacy and email etiquette, to preventing and reporting dangerous behavior. The message seems to be sinking in.

"What web sites I should go to, how to identify if the web sites are ok to use or not, and I also learned how to keep my information private," said Alshlhawi.

"We learned also about cyberbullying," said Vanessa Valdez, a seventh grader. "People bully people online and that can make for big consequences."