How to Teach Digital Citizenship in 3rd Grade

Understanding how to use the internet has become a cornerstone issue for students. No longer do they complete their research on projects solely in the library. Now, there is a vast landscape of resources available on the internet.

But with wealth comes responsibility. As soon as children begin to visit the online world, they need the knowledge to do that safely, securely, responsibly. There are several great programs available to guide students through this process (Common Sense’s Digital Passport, Carnegie CyberAcademy, Netsmart Kids). I’ve collected them as resources and developed a path to follow that includes the best of everything.

Here’s Third Grade:

Overview/Big Ideas

Why is it important to be a good digital citizen? How can students do this?

Essential Questions

  • What is a ‘digital citizen’?
  • What are my rights and responsibilities as Digital Citizens?
  • How is being a citizen of the internet the same/different than my home town?
  • What are the implications of digital citizenship in today’s world?

Objectives and Steps

____Review last year’s discussions on the meaning of ‘digital citizens’, ‘digital privacy’ and ‘image copyrights’. Solicit ideas and experiences from students.

____Discuss ‘plagiarism’. What does it mean? Why should you give credit to original authors of information? What are the consequences of NOT doing that?

____Discuss the potential risks and dangers associated with online communications.

____What is ‘netiquette’? Discuss ‘internet etiquette’ as it relates to a third grader.

____What is cyber-bullying? Do any students know someone who’s been bullied? Why is that bad? What does ‘cyber’ mean? How could you bully someone online?

____Review the concept of online presence. What does that mean? Is it safe? How can students protect their online privacy? Discuss the importance of never posting private information online, including pictures.

____To support this discussion, create avatars using a free web-based avatar creator. If you don’t have one you like, try these:

____Save it to your network folder with a screen shot (review how to do a screen shot if necessary).

____Once your avatar is saved, add it to your blog sidebar (if students have blogs). Also make it the user avatar so it appears in comments (if you use Edublogger, it will help with this task).

____If your students have wiki pages, create an interactive avatar with Voki (if students have used this web-based avatar creator) and upload as a widget. Use this opportunity to discuss the privacy of the class wiki.

____During sponge or free time during the year, circle back on these concepts of ‘digital citizenship’ by visiting these online websites:

____Extension: Have students create a blog post explaining what they know about being a digital citizen (if they have blogs). Visit the blogs of classmates, specifically their post on ‘digital citizens’. Contribute comments. Good comments include a compliment, suggestion, and/or question. And, don’t forget to use best writing skills.

____Trouble shooting: We don’t have blogs No worries. Create a wiki page in the class wiki that can be used as a discussion forum. Have students add their thoughts here and comment on the thoughts of others.

For Digital Citizenship links for K-6, click here.


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Author: Jacqui
Welcome to my virtual classroom. I've been a tech teacher for 15 years, but modern technology offers more to get my ideas across to students than at any time in my career. Drop in to my class wikis, classroom blog, our internet start pages. I'll answer your questions about how to teach tech, what to teach when, where the best virtual sites are. Need more--let's chat about issues of importance in tech ed. Want to see what I'm doing today? Click the gravatar and select the grade.

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