By Michael Hilkemeijer
As young children continue to be exposed to new and emerging Information and Communication Technology (ICT), digital citizenship for kindergarten students and preschool students is increasingly becoming important. So what is digital citizenship?
According to The Digital Technologies Hub, a “digital citizen refers to a person who has the knowledge and skills to effectively use digital technologies to communicate with others, participate in society and create and consume digital content.”
In the EYLF, young children develop their own sense of citizenship throughout the learning outcomes as they build a sense of identity, connect and contribute to the world, develop a strong sense of well-being and have a chance to build their digital citizenship in learning outcomes 4 and 5.
This is not to say that digital citizenship for kindergarten students cannot be begun or achieved in other learning outcomes as the use of digital technology is encouraged throughout all the EYLF learning outcomes.
The ‘Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies’ (Early Childhood Australia, 2019) addresses the value of educating young children on the use of ICT. It discusses the rights of young children to digital access, digital privacy, online safety and cyber-safety education.
As a consequence, digital citizenship for kindergarten students and preschool children needs to be addressed in the early learning environments.
Some key points from the statement are as follows:
Digital Access -
- The increased use of networked digital technologies by people from around the world underpins the notion of digital rights.
- Across the world, people use the Internet as the primary source of communication and to share, store, retrieve and collect digital information such as data.
- All people have the right to access digital technologies.
- Research suggests that children consider digital access a basic human right.
- Digital rights in early childhood education and care settings is likely to grow in importance.
- For many children, early childhood education settings may provide the primary point of access to digital technologies and the Internet.
Digital Privacy –
- This considers how people and their information are represented and stored on the Internet – with or without personal permission.
- Digital privacy is a serious issue for young children who often do not have explicit knowledge or control over how digital data is created and managed by adults.
- Other issues can arise if services do not address this issue.
- By addressing the issue, early childhood education and care services can provide some of the first models of appropriately enacted digital privacy that children and families experience as they enter the education system.
Online Safety -
Digital citizenship for kindergarten students also involves Online Safety and the following are the key points taken from statement.
- Many young children access the Internet via touchscreen technologies and Internet of Toys.
- The increasing level of interaction that young children have with the Internet means early childhood educators must consider how to promote online safety for young children.
- There are 3 main areas of online safety that you need to address as an early childhood teacher that is 1) content; 2) conduct and; 3) contact. All of which you can read more about here.