In today’s society, where students are creating virtual identities for themselves online, it becomes integral that teachers and families teach their students how to use this new resource responsibly and correctly. Students need to realize early on, if they have not come to this realization yet, that what they post online stays online even if they delete their post, and can have either a positive or a negative impact on them in the future. Students also need to learn what is appropriate to share, and what should remain private, as well as knowing that they should ask for permission before posting anything that involves another person or was created by another person.digital20citizen201

This infographic comes from Livonia Public Schools, which does a good job of breaking down how to be a good digital citizen. The page that the infographic comes from is also an informative and easy read, so you can access the link by clicking on the infographic above!

An important part of becoming a good digital citizen, especially in the classroom where teachers and students are using the Internet to find information from different sources, is understanding the differences between copyright, fair use, and creative commons so that we do not make the mistake of using someone else’s intellectual property without their permission. Below is a graphic of the different types of permissions that creators can give to others who wish to share their work. This graphic was created by langwitches on Flickr, and the website with the original image is linked on the image down below.


If something is copyrighted, that means that under the law, that piece of intellectual property belongs to the person who created or came up with the ideas. They alone hold the rights to own it, control what happens to it, and to profit from it. No one else can use that property without the creator’s consent.

Fair use helps streamline the process of copyright law so that creators are not inundated with requests to reference their work from other creators out there (and so that new creators are not sued for getting inspiration from a copyrighted work). Under fair use guidelines, new creators are not breaking copyright law if they are not using the original work for commercial reasons, if the new work is decidedly different from the original (it is obvious that it is not a copy), and if only a small portion of the original work was used.

Creative commons helps creators mark their work with the rights they want that work to have. For example, an artist may not want a drawing of theirs to be public domain, which would mean that anyone could use it without crediting the original artist. Perhaps the artist wants to allow the work to be shared or modified as long as there is a link directing people to the original work on the same page as the new drawing. By using creative commons, that artist can specify how they would like to be accredited for their work.

It is important to teach students that not everything they find online is free. If students do not grasp this concept, how can we as teachers be certain that they understand what cheating and plagiarism even are (understanding creative commons and plagiarism are very similar processes)? Students need to realize that intellectual property is just as important and valuable as physical property, like their phones and laptops. This can be a crucial step to guiding students to realize that their own thoughts and feelings have weight and thus encourage them to think before they post!


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