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Best Free Digital Citizenship Sites, Lessons and Activities

Kids using mobile phone at the elementary school
(Image credit: iStock/Wavebreakmedia)

More than Generation Z or Generation Alpha, students today may fairly be termed Generation Digital. They've lived their entire lives with the internet, smartphones, and instant communication. Given that many kids know more about digital technology than their teachers do, it may not seem obvious that lessons in digital citizenship are necessary.

But these lessons are. Regardless of their tech savvy, children still need guidance in learning the rules of the road—both how to cross the street safely and how to navigate their increasingly complex and pervasive digital universe. 

The free sites, lessons, and activities below cover the breadth of digital citizenship curriculum, from cyberbullying to copyright to digital footprint. 

Common Sense Education’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum
If you access only one digital citizenship resource, make it this one. Common Sense Education’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum includes interactive, customizable, and bilingual lessons and activities, browsable by grade and topic. Each step-by-step printable lesson plan includes everything teachers need for classroom implementation, from learning objectives to quizzes to take home resources. Integrates with Nearpod and Learning.com.

PBS Learning Media Digital Citizenship
A comprehensive, preK-12 resource for teaching 10 digital citizenship topics. Videos, interactive lessons, documents, and more are easily searchable by grade. Each standards-aligned exercise features a downloadable video accompanied by support materials for educators, transcripts, and lesson-building tools. Shareable to Google Classroom.

Which Digital Citizenship Skills Do Students Need Most?
It’s not just cyberbullying, privacy, and safety. Common Sense Education’s Erin Wilkey Oh takes a dive into the research to provide ideas for broadening your digital citizenship curriculum while boosting kids’ news literacy, focus, and habits of mind.

Digital Citizenship Progression Chart
This super-useful guide organizes the elements of digital cItizenship by concept and lays out a timetable for appropriate introduction by grade level. Best of all, it links to a spreadsheet that can be copied, downloaded, and adapted for your own classroom.

Teachers' Essential Guide to Cyberbullying Prevention
What is cyberbullying? What's my responsibility in preventing cyberbullying? Should I intervene in a cyberbullying situation? These and other critical questions are explored in this article by Common Sense Education's Erin Wilkey Oh. A great starting point for teachers planning or updating their digital citizenship curriculum. 

Teaching Digital Citizenship
InCtrl’s multimedia lessons are standards-aligned and cover a wide array of digital citizenship topics, including media literacy, ethics/copyright, and digital footprint. The lessons are applied across the curriculum, from ELA to science and social studies, so educators can easily incorporate these into various classes.

Google Digital Literacy & Citizenship Curriculum
Google teamed up with iKeepSafe to produce this digital citizenship curriculum that’s interactive and hands-on, and gives students the opportunity to learn by doing. Each topic features videos, lesson plans, and student handouts. 

Supporting Digital Citizenship During Remote Learning
Edtech expert Carl Hooker explores the particular challenges of bolstering digital citizenship during remote learning in this best practices guide, developed from T&L’s Virtual Leadership Summits. The guide details key questions educators must clarify for their remote students, such as “What is appropriate attire?” and “When do you use a camera?”

NetSmartz Digital Citizenship Videos
Short, age-appropriate videos address sensitive topics in an engaging and entertaining way. Videos for middle and high school students feature teen life at NS High, while the “Into the Cloud” series is aimed at 10-year-olds and younger. Includes several sobering real-life stories about sexual exploitation. Watch online or download. 

7 Tips and 1 Activity To Help Digital Citizens Engage With Empathy
We spend a lot of time cautioning our students against potentially unsafe digital interactions and practices. This article takes a different view. By guiding kids toward appropriate digital communication and engagement, educators can help them develop openness to new ideas and empathy for others. 

Google’s Be Internet Awesome
The Be Internet Awesome downloadable curriculum is accompanied by the slick and sophisticated animated “Interland” game, featuring cool music, super stylish 3D graphics, and colorful, fun geometric characters. The curriculum includes five lessons and a teacher’s guide.

NewsFeed Defenders
From the top online provider of evidence-based history and civics education, this engrossing online game asks students to take control of a fictional social media site with the goal of boosting traffic while being alert for fake news and scams. A great way for teens to appreciate the risks and responsibilities that an online presence confers. Free registration is not required to play, but it does allow users to save their progress and unlock other benefits.