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C2C Digital Magazine (Fall 2022 - Winter 2023)

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A new resource on digital citizenship

By Lauren Hays, Ph.D., and Jenna Kammer, Ph.D., University of Central Missouri


Many educators are concerned about how technology use impacts privacy, mental health, communication, and other behaviors, and seek to prepare students and patrons to use technology safely and effectively. These concerns fall under the broad term “digital citizenship” which describes the responsible use of technology. For educators of online or hybrid courses, digital citizenship is also vital for effective online discussions, academic integrity, identity protection and even self-care when working in online environments for long periods of time.

While educators are aware of digital citizenship, and its importance, a centralized resource with research-based literature on digital citizenship did not exist. For this reason, we developed an annotated bibliography which curates research related to digital citizenship: 1 ) to curate resources for educators on what digital citizenship means and how to be a good technology user, and 2) to provide background information to those interested or involved in digital citizenship initiatives that explain the significance of each element. In this article, we will share more about the development and usefulness of a digital citizenship annotated bibliography, designed specifically for educators and librarians.

The Concept of Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship is most commonly discussed in the K-12 environment where schools are responsible for ensuring that students are prepared to use technology safely and responsibly. “Digital Citizenship is a concept which helps teachers, technology leaders and parents to understand what students/children/technology users should know to use technology appropriately” (Ribble, 2017, para. 1). Therefore, teaching students about digital citizenship is the process of helping students understand how to use technology and then how to be responsible and safe in digital environments.

In higher education, incoming students are expected to have a certain degree of digital citizenship. However, many undergraduate programs may also provide instruction to develop digital citizenship skills even more, such as offering programming to students for using information ethically, digital health initiatives and through content-specific digital literacy initiatives which include digital citizenship. Digital citizenship is important for youth and young adults because there are concerns about the dangers of online living and legislators have called for formal instruction related to safety, privacy, health, well-being and literacy (Gleason & von Gillern, 2018). Additionally, there is a dramatic increase in technology in schools and this also requires learning how to use it (Martin et al., 2019). Further, in the United States, CIPA and eRate laws require schools to show evidence of educating minors on the appropriate use of the Internet (Vasquez, 2019).

The Digital Citizenship Annotated Bibliography

In 2021, the Carnegie-Whitney Grant from the American Library Association funded work to create an annotated bibliography on digital citizenship. This bibliography curates research around the topic of digital citizenship (see Figure 1). The bibliography can be found at this website:

Figure 1. The Digital Citizenship Annotated Bibliography Resource

The annotated bibliography is for all educators, including, but not limited to: K-12 teachers, librarians, higher education faculty, instructional designers, and researchers. The purpose was to curate research related to digital citizenships from a wide variety of sources so that educators would have a resource where they could learn more about the components of digital citizenship, while also learning more about the research behind them.

With permission, the website is organized using Ribble’s (2015) nine elements of digital citizenship: digital access, digital commerce, digital communication and collaboration, digital etiquette, digital health and welfare, digital fluency/literacy, digital rights and responsibilities, digital security and privacy, and digital law (see Figure 2). The definitions for those elements are:

  • Digital access is the ability for individuals to access digital resources such as the internet and computers (Ribble, 2017). Teachers, librarians, and administrators need to be aware of the people in their community and who may or may not have access to technology, not only in school but at home as well. Access can be limited based on ability, physical location, or socioeconomic status. For example, Common Sense Media (2020) wrote how a third of K-12 students do not have the access they need to engage in distance education. Despite this number, the report offers suggestions for how to address the digital divide.
  • Digital commerce is the buying and selling of goods and services in an online marketplace (Ribble, 2017). The element of digital commerce also focuses on the tools and safeguards in place to assist those buying, selling, banking, or using money in any way in the digital space. People are targeted by ads when they use social media or search engines. For example, Pluim and Gard (2016) wrote of how physical education instructors were using a digital platform to monitor student activity that brought up ethical questions about the digital commerce of children’s health.
  • Digital communication and collaboration involve using technology to communicate with others. Students use digital communication to express themselves as scholars and people (Ribble, 2017). Communicating digitally requires users to understand the impact of the data they are creating. In addition, the systems that we use for communication may contain bias as part of the system development. Noble (2018) presented a compelling description of the hidden bias that exists in many of the algorithms involved in using search engines. Or as another example, Sweeney and Whaley (2019) describe how the use of emoji’s in text communication are culturally-situated and center around whiteness.
  • “Digital etiquette refers to the electronic standards of conduct or procedures. Digital etiquette involves thinking about others when using digital devices” (Ribble, 2017, para. 5). Whether in the classroom or online, being aware of others, and behaving kindly, is important for everyone. For example, it is well-known that people behave differently online or when they are anonymous in online forums. Ronson (2016) explored the practice of “public shaming” to find out more about what makes people capable of attacking others online in public forums and found that this behavior may be related to the historical practice of public humiliation.
  • “Digital health and welfare refer to physical and psychological well-being in a digital world” (Ribble, 2017, para. 6). McStay (2018) suggested caution as we interact with technologies, like an Apple Watch, that attempt to gauge our emotions or health. Specifically, he presents the example of how artificial intelligence is now being designed to interpret feelings, moods, and emotions which will have additional implications for well-being and social relations.
  • Digital literacy and fluency is the understanding of how technology works and how it is used (Ribble, 2017). The better educated or “digitally fluent” students are, the more likely they are to make meaningful use of technologies. Digital fluency involves the ability to discern the differences between technologies and to act accordingly.  Savin-Baden (2015) described how increasing digital connectedness has impacts for teaching and learning. They present the concept of digital tethering as a way to describe a young person’s connection to many different technologies (especially social media) and its implication for developing unique identities within these different environments.
  • Digital rights and responsibility refer to the requirements and freedoms which extend to everyone who engages online (Ribble, 2017). Everyone has rights online related to protecting one’s original content and ethical treatment. Protecting others both online and in the real world are also part of digital rights and responsibilities. For example Kazerooni et al. (2018) discussed the cyber-bystander effect, the experience of witnessing cyberbullying, and provided several intervention strategies to use when confronting cyberbullying. They also present several unique findings from their research that explain more about the nature of cyberbullying, including that people are more likely to intervene in online cyberbullying when several offenders are involved.
  • Digital security and privacy refer to the importance of keeping some information online private (Ribble, 2017). Another way to think about digital security and privacy is that it recognizes the need to take electronic precautions to guarantee safety. Viruses, worms, and other bots can be passed along from one system to another just like an illness. Data is also particularly vulnerable and is often used for profit by corporations without the user’s knowledge. This presents a particularly challenging scenario for educators and librarians who manage computer systems used by children or other vulnerable populations. Several authors, like Zuboff (2019) and Igo (2018) discuss the implications of corporations who sell data for profit.  Audrey Watters is expected to publish a book called Teaching Machines within the next year that will examine issues of digital security and privacy related to educational technology specifically (Watters, 2019).
  • Digital law refers to the rules and policies that govern online spaces (Ribble, 2017). Digital law also involves the creation of rules and policy that address issues related to the online world, as well as following them. During the pandemic, many school librarians and teachers sought answers to questions related to copyright, and legal distribution of digital material online for students to access during remote learning (Kammer & Burress, 2020). To support school librarians, Johnson and Johnson (2016) prepared a list of resources specifically for school librarians to use when fielding questions within the school related to intellectual property.

Figure 2. Ribble’s (2015) Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship as a Framework for the Annotated Bibliography

Digital citizenship is a broad topic that encompasses many academic disciplines. We included material that was specific to education and also focused on recent work published since 2018, but seminal works published prior to 2018 are included.

Annotations and Citations

Each source in the bibliography is annotated (see Figure 3). The annotations include a brief summary of the source for the purposes of helping educators determine if the source will be useful for them. In addition, key findings of each article were included in the annotations so that users would be able to easily view the data and key points to determine relevance. Within the bibliography, readers will find sources on current teaching practices, considerations for educators, and historical perspectives.

Figure 3. Annotations and Citations are Provided for each Resource with each Element of Digital Citizenship



Overall, we believe the annotated bibliography is a useful resource for librarians and educators seeking more knowledge on digital citizenship. The annotated bibliography provides guidance through the categorical organization of different areas of digital citizenship. Individuals new to digital citizenship, or new to specific areas of digital citizenship, have guidance on where to start their exploration. Through the inclusion of research-based sources, those knowledgeable about digital citizenship will also find the annotated bibliography useful.

While the annotated bibliography serves as a timely resource for individuals interested in digital citizenship, the long-term impact is important too. Capturing the current state of knowledge on digital citizenship will serve as an important resource for future researchers. Additionally, future librarians and educators interested in the growth of technology will be able to review this resource and understand what was being discussed about digital citizenship around the year 2022.


Common Sense Media. (2020). Closing the K-12 digital divide in the age of distance learning. common_sense_media_report_final_6_26_7.38am_web_updated.pdf

Gleason, B., & Von Gillern, S. (2018). Digital citizenship with social media: Participatory practices of teaching and learning in secondary education. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 21(1), 200-212.

Igo, S. E. (2018). The known citizen: A history of privacy in modern America. Harvard University Press.
Johnson, Y. M., & Johnson, N. M. (2016). Copyright resources for school librarians. Knowledge Quest, 45(2), 18–24.

Kammer, J., & Hays, L. (2022). Digital citizenship: An annotated bibliography. University of Central Missouri.

Kazerooni, F., Taylor, S. H., Bazarova, N. N., & Whitlock, J. (2018). Cyberbullying bystander intervention: The number of offenders and retweeting predict likelihood of helping a cyberbullying victim. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 23(3), 146-162.

Martin, F., Gezer, T., & Wang, C. (2019). Educators’ perceptions of student digital citizenship practices. Computers in the Schools, 36(4), 238-254.

McStay, A. (2018). Emotional AI: The rise of empathic media. Sage.

Noble, S. U. (2018). Algorithms of oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. NYU Press.

Pluim, C., & Gard, M. (2018). Physical education’s grand convergence: Fitnessgram®, big-data and the digital commerce of children’s health. Critical Studies in Education, 59(3), 261-278.

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know. International Society for Technology in Education.

Ribble, M. (2017). Welcome to the updated digital citizenship website. Digital Citizenship.

Ronson, J. (2016). So you've been publicly shamed. Riverhead Books.

Savin-Baden, M. (2015). Rethinking Learning in an Age of Digital Fluency: Is being digitally tethered a new learning nexus?. Routledge.

Sweeney, M. E., & Whaley, K. (2019). Technically white: Emoji skin-tone modifiers as American technoculture. First Monday, 24(7).

Vasquez, A. (2019). Protecting the Millennial Generation: Beyond the Scope of the Internet. Child and Family Law Journal, 7, 79-108.

Zuboff, S. (2019). The age of surveillance capitalism: The fight for a human future at the new frontier of power. Profile Books.

About the Authors

Lauren Hays, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of instructional technology at the University of Central Missouri where she teaches classes on research and educational technology. She has spoken nationally on topics related to teaching, and she has published works on digital literacy including the book she co-edited Integrating Digital Literacy in the Disciplines. Her research interests include the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), digital literacy, and teacher development.

The email for Dr. Hays is 

Jenna Kammer, Ph.D., is an associate professor of library science  at the University of Central Missouri where she teaches classes on research and library science. She has spoken nationally on topics related to teaching with technology, designing instruction and using digital resources. She is a co-editor for Integrating Digital Literacy in the
. Her research interests include issues of teaching and learning with technology, access to digital resources, and librarian development.

The email for Dr. Kammer is 

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