How Parents Can Promote Responsible Digital Citizenship at Home

A digital citizen is someone who uses technology safely, ethically, and responsibly, protecting their own and others’ rights and information in the digital world. Everyone…

A digital citizen is someone who uses technology safely, ethically, and responsibly, protecting their own and others’ rights and information in the digital world. Everyone using the internet must be a responsible digital citizen – including children. As we learned from our Top 10 Dangerous Apps guide and our Student Survey, children start their digital and tech journey from a young age. Parents must take an active role in educating them on how to use the internet safely and responsibly. 

Children Must Learn How To Navigate Tech And Apps In A Safe And Productive Way 

Children spend most of their time “digitally connected” through mobile phones, apps, laptops and tablets, and even toys and household objects. They post information, play games, and meet people through avenues you may not even be aware of.  

More importantly, the information they provide online is constantly creating ‘digital footprints’ that are almost impossible to delete. One aspect of digital citizenship is building positive digital footprints and understanding what data is being given away.  

Parents and their children are becoming more engaged in discussions around their children’s Internet activities. New research by Microsoft shows that 87% of young people are talking to their parents about online risks and more.  

Promoting responsible digital citizenship at home is not just about discussing their risks and vulnerabilities – it’s also about how your children treat others. The border between the digital and offline world is rapidly disappearing. Children are now using digital tools often before they have mastered how to interact positively and responsibly with family and friends face-to-face. In just a couple of clicks, they can find themselves in online communities where their words or actions can be risky or hurtful, no matter their intention.  

The Foundation of Digital Citizenship 

Digital citizenship education aims to give children the opportunity and guidance to master essential tools that will help make the digital world an open, inclusive, creative space where people respect each other. It is made up of the values, attitudes, skills, knowledge and critical understanding that are the building blocks for becoming a just, responsible and caring citizen, whether in the digital or non-digital world. It is about the things we need to know, to do and to be to use the internet, mobile phones, apps and other internet-connected devices creatively and responsibly to communicate, explore, work, learn and play online.  

Digital citizenship defines how we access and use digital technologies and data, making it easier for us to benefit from the opportunities the digital world opens and avoid the pitfalls. It helps us build the knowledge we need to take part in various sorts of communities (such as social networks or online discussion groups) and the critical understanding to see which ones we want to be part of. It also equips us with the values and attitudes to make sure everyone can have their voice heard.  

Digital Citizenship Begins at Home 

In Microsoft’s Digital Civility Index, parents emerge as being the most trustworthy toward ensuring the safety of individuals and families online.  

Digital citizenship begins at home from an early age. In the first years of their life, children constantly watch how parents, siblings and family friends communicate and interact and copy what they see. As they sharpen their listening and observing skills, they will begin to notice how people around them feel and learn to show empathy for others. At this point, they need many opportunities to practice cooperation, solve simple problems and adapt to new situations. 

Values, attitudes, and skills, along with specific types of knowledge and understanding that children will pick up on, are called competencies and form the foundation of digital citizenship.  


  • Human dignity and human rights  
  • Cultural diversity  
  • Democracy, justice, fairness, equality and the rule of law  


  • Open to other cultures, beliefs, world views and practices  
  • Respect  
  • Civic mindedness  
  • Responsibility  
  • Self-efficacy  
  • Tolerance of ambiguity  


  • Autonomous learning skills  
  • Analytical and critical thinking skills  
  • Skills of listening and observing  
  • Empathy  
  • Flexibility and adaptability  
  • Linguistic, communicative and plurilingual skills  
  • Cooperation skills  
  • Conflict-resolution skills  

Knowledge and critical understanding of 

  • Self  
  • Language and communication 
  • Media 
  • Cultures 
  • Religions 
  • History 
  • Environment

How Parents can Enforce Digital Citizenship at Home 

Children learn from what you do, not what you tell them to do. Show them how to be responsible and respectful towards others.   

Some helpful ways parents can support a better digital life is with honest dialogue and repetition. Follow our helpful tips below.   

1. Teach them how to be a digital citizen. 

Explain what it means to be a digital citizen and focus on teaching how to use the internet safely. It’s important to have an ongoing and open conversation around topics like protecting personal information online and balancing screen time with offline socializing. It’s important to keep this information age appropriate – expanding the information you share as your children grow older.  

2. Show them their digital footprint. 

Your child’s digital footprint can impact their education and future employment. It’s important they understand how they are being presented online. 

  1. Start by using a computer or device they don’t normally use and ask them to conduct a Google search of themselves. 
  2. Next, open your device that is not connected to their accounts and search both Google and their social media accounts. This gives you both the opportunity to see how they appear in searches and how the digital world sees them. It’s a perfect time to discuss privacy settings and how your child can control them. This is especially important with new or younger users.

3. Discuss Internet Usage Laws 

It’s vital that children learn the rules of the internet, at home and at school. Some websites have age limits, but they’re easy to bypass. Teach your children that lying about their age online can put them in danger. Share real stories of kids who got into trouble because they lied about their age or identity. 

Also, copyright and fair use laws can be confusing, but you can start simply. Remind them not to steal or misuse images and to seek advice before sharing if they are unsure. 

4. Improve and Build on Cyber Literacy: 

 Having cyber literacy means knowing how to interpret online information. This includes understanding source material and evaluating its usefulness. In other words, part of cyber literacy is finding legitimate sources to back up claims. Show your child examples of websites that claim to report facts but never provide evidence. Then ask them to: 

  1. To point to areas where evidence would be necessary to make the source credible. 
  2. Why spreading false or unproven info could be harmful and help them work through the answer.

By practicing these steps and keeping a reminder checklist available, children will have the opportunity to adopt good positive digital citizenship and online experiences with support from school and home. They will develop the skills to understand negative situations and how to discuss issues they have with teachers and parents, promoting a better digital world for themselves and others. 

If you found this post helpful, visit our blog or our new Wellbeing page for more insightful and supportive content. Stay up to date on industry trends and product news by following us on; LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  

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