The Key Building Blocks of Digital Citizenship

Tim Schwartz

Tim Schwartz

We need your help. Let me explain.

We start each school year by framing the use of technology in both the Lower and Upper School with the words trust and responsibility. As the year progresses and we deal with the occasional incident related to an inappropriate use of technology, we are provided an opportunity for reflection and have begun to realize that a single conversation is just not enough to build a strong foundation in digital citizenship. The age our students are growing up in is rapidly changing by access to technologies that dramatically impact their understanding of the world and how they relate to each other.

It is clear that there needs to be ongoing conversations about trust and responsibility and this is where you can play a big part in helping Whitby develop globally-minded digital citizens. We need parents to be having these same dialogs at home with your child. 

To be specific, we need your help as partners in your child’s education to assist in reinforcing the following three messages in order to build a foundation in digital citizenship that will withstand the pressures and temptations of growing up in a digital world:

1. Use of any technology - hardware or software - comes with responsibilities.

This is not just the responsibility to care for physical devices. It is the responsibility to use the technology appropriately and the responsibility to share what they are doing on those devices with you as the parents. If our students do not realize that the use of technology is a privilege then there is no motivation to demonstrate responsible behavior.

2. Use of technology is predicated upon trust.

This is the trust established between your child and you, your child and their teacher and your child and their friends. It is the same trust that allows you to leave your child alone with a laptop. It is also the trust that teachers put in their students when providing access to the devices in class as well as assigning homework. It is the trust that your child’s friends have put in each other when interacting online. As a school, we are in a much better position to support your children if there is a solid understanding of relationships and trust.

3. Use of technology requires a constant, sustained effort in making smart choices.

Each interaction your child has with technology presents a dizzying array of choices and each choice presents the potential for tremendous fun and learning as well as missed opportunities and unintended consequences. 

This is such an exciting time to be at Whitby. There is unprecedented access to technologies that have a tremendous potential to enhance your child’s learning and understanding of the world.

However, it is abundantly clear that we cannot do this alone. We need your cooperation in guaranteeing successful outcomes for all our students.

In an age where technology has become so pervasive, it is critical that you start framing conversations about your child’s use of technology with expressions like trust, responsibility and smart choices.


Tim Schwartz

Tim Schwartz

Tim Schwartz is the Director of Innovation for Whitby School. He is always on the look out for opportunities with the potential to unleash creativity, transform teaching and learning, optimize school operations, improve organizational culture and streamline administrative processes. He likes exploring and challenging big ideas as well as implementing and evangelizing technological solutions. Tim enjoys presenting and writing about digital citizenship, technology, education, content marketing and the Maker Movement. He has high-standards because he knows that with the right inspiration and support, everyone can be better. And he wants you to know that he is not the droid you are looking for.