Top 4 Digital Citizenship Activities for Middle School
New technology is driving change in educational standards across the country, especially in digital citizenship.
This means middle school teachers need great digital citizenship activities to meet their requirements.
While you could come up with your own activities, that takes a lot of time and you don’t know how each activity will go in the classroom.
That’s why we recommend these four tried-and-true digital citizenship activities:
- Introduction to digital citizenship
- Digital footprint
- Internet safety
- Digital communication
Pick and choose any of the activities below to fill your curriculum!
1. An Introduction to Digital Citizenship
This activity is the perfect way to break the ice by introducing your students to the concept of digital citizenship and making responsible choices when using technology.
- List of scenarios
For this activity, you’ll need to do a little bit of work up front.
Start with a list of scenarios that involve someone making decisions when using technology.
You can include examples of both good and bad digital citizenship choices. Make sure you have enough scenarios for each student in your classroom to have their own.
Some examples you could use include:
- Posting a rude social media update about a classmate (bad)
- Not opening a suspicious looking email (good)
- Doing online research without fact-checking (bad)
- Reporting cyberbullying to parents or teachers (good)
Once your list is compiled and you’ve noted whether each one is “good” or “bad,” write each scenario on a notecard — but don’t indicate which type of choice is it.
Now that your prep is complete, it’s time to introduce digital citizenship to your class!
On the day you plan to do this activity, pass out a note card to each student.
Go around the class and have students read their scenario out loud. Instruct everyone to give a “thumbs up” if they think it is a good decision and a “thumbs down” if they believe it’s a bad decision.
After all scenarios have been reviewed, open the class up for a discussion.
Ask your students questions such as:
- Which scenario was the worst decision? Why do you think that?
- Do you do any of the “good” actions? Did you know that means you are being a good digital citizen?
Overall, you want your students to start thinking about what good digital citizenship is (and isn’t) in order to make your other digital citizenship lessons more effective!
2. Digital Footprint Activity: My Digital Footprint
Do you plan to talk about digital footprints in your digital citizenship lessons?
This activity is a great way to help students learn about their own digital footprint after you’ve introduced the concept of what a digital footprint is.
- Digital footprint handout
- Writing utensils
If your students frequently forget a pen or pencil, make sure you have some spares!
Pass the digital footprint handouts to your students while you give them instructions to draw or write common websites and social apps they use.
Give your students a good amount of time to gather their thoughts and get everything on the page.
Once time is up, use the tape to hang the sheets on your classroom wall. Have students review the wall and note any common trends they see across the footprints.
Now that your students have a physical depiction of their own digital footprint, ask them these questions:
- What to you tell these websites and social networks about yourself?
- How long do you think that information stays visible?
From there, you can either go back to your main lesson or continue an open discussion -- whichever works best with your syllabus.
Ultimately, this activity will help to give your students a better context and personal relation to the importance of being aware of digital footprints and knowing what information they are sharing.
3. Internet Safety Activity: Using Strong Passwords
This activity is a great introduction to a lesson on Internet safety and the importance of creating strong passwords.
- Writing utensils
For this activity, you will write down examples of good and bad passwords on notecards. You’ll want to have enough notecards so that each student in your class has one.
For examples of bad passwords, write phrases like “your birthday” or “your pet’s name” -- ideas that students should never include in a password.
To come up with good password examples, write random phrases such as “greentreeswithleaves” or fully random combinations like “Auh89Dnl!”
NOTE - Do not use any real passwords in your examples!
Start your class by asking students to raise their hand if they think they use strong passwords for online accounts such as email and social media. This will give them something to think about as you pass out the note cards face down.
Once all students have been given a notecard, instruct them to flip over the cards and decide whether what is written would make up a good or bad password.
Go around the class and have some students share what is written and then if they think it is a good or bad password. Then ask them why they believe that.
With that simple question, your students will start to share their own knowledge about creating strong passwords, which might surprise you!
After you’ve had 10 or so students share, ask the class again if they think they use strong passwords.
At this point, students who raised their hand before may not raise them this time. If this occurs, encourage those students to think of a new password and change their accounts once they get home.
Overall, this activity is a great way to give your students actionable knowledge they can use right away to protect themselves online!
4. Digital Communication Activity: How to Know What to Share
This instructor-led activity is a good way to start a lesson on digital communication. It will get your students thinking about how to make good decisions when using technology to communicate.
- Being a Good Digital Citizen handout
This activity takes the least amount of prep work compared to others on our list.
At the start of your class, ask students to share how they communicate with technology. As they raise their hands with answers, write them on the board at the front of your classroom.
Most likely, you’ll write down types of personal communication like social media and texting.
Once you’ve written down a good number of answers, ask them how they think they will use technology to communicate in their future careers. Add these new responses to the board and underline any repeats from before.
Then ask the class which types of communication could negatively impact their future if used irresponsibly. When students respond, circle their answers and ask them two follow up questions:
- How could this be used irresponsibly?
- How do you decide what is okay to share?
The second question is what will really get to the heart of your discussion. After a few students have given answers, pass out the digital citizenship handout.
Then you can transition from the activity into a discussion about each question on the handout, highlighting ones your students mentioned before being given the sheet.
From this point, you can open the class up for a larger discussion or transition to your regular lesson on digital communication.
Either way, this introduction activity prepares your students to learn more about digital communication and how to make smart decisions online!
Start Teaching Digital Citizenship Today!
Now that you have new activity ideas to add to your digital citizenship curriculum, what’s next?
You can spend time creating your digital citizenship lessons from scratch and adding these activities in when needed.
Or you can teach these crucial topics without all the extra hassle!
We’ve got a full Digital Citizenship curriculum module specifically for teaching digital citizenship in middle school classes.
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This module is just one piece of the full Business&ITCenter21 digital curriculum system which helps teachers like you cover crucial career readiness and digital literacy topics!
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