Best Free Digital Citizenship Sites, Lessons and Activities

digital citizenship
(Image credit: iStock/Wavebreakmedia)
Recent updates

This article was updated April 23, 2024

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 online and social media landscapes—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. 

Best Free Digital Citizenship Sites, Lessons and Activities

AT&T’s Achievery
Whether you celebrate or look askance at the neologism “achievery,” you’ll find a lot to appreciate in this free site from internet giant AT&T. An extensive collection of downloadable and printable PDF lesson plans from a variety of highly respected sources are searchable by grade, category, and resource provider. No account is required and it’s simple to browse resources on this easy-to-navigate site. Diverse topics range from the basics of digital citizenship to more in-depth ones such as AI algorithms, white-hat hackers, and large language models. Do sharks love ice cream? Yep, that’s there too. 

Teen Voices: Oversharing and Your Digital Footprint
Teens listen to other teens. Sometimes that’s a problem, but in this video from Common Sense Education, teens talk frankly about the harm of oversharing personal information on social media and the permanence of even so-called “disappearing” messages. Put peer pressure to good use. 

CTRL-F: Digital media literacy
From the Canadian civic education nonprofit CIVIX, the digital learning platform CTRL-F aims to enhance students’ critical thinking and fact-checking skills. Once you get through the slightly tedious sign-up forms, it’s easy to explore the strong collection of lessons, exercises, and expert videos. Resources are conveniently accessible via Google Drive or local downloads. Be sure to check out the Example Bank, which features a variety of topical news stories for students to evaluate, ranging from simple (Did the Simpsons predict a bridge collapse?) to challenging (Is Patrick Moore an expert on climate change?). Available in English and French.

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

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.  

Diana Restifo

Diana has been Tech & Learning's web editor and contributor since 2010, dedicated to ferreting out the best free tech tools for teachers.