This generation of students has more exposure to the web and are more technically adept in navigating it than their predecessors. Early (and often unsupervised) access to the internet means that while they're great at finding obscure information and completing projects, they might not know how to stay safe.

It's important to discuss internet safety with students at the beginning of the year, or when you're beginning your first unit that involves any sort of digital literacy element. It's also important to remind students about digital citizenship as it extends beyond an individual staying safe.

In a time where students are spending more time on the computer both during school and at home, it's important for them to understand the rules of internet safety and digital citizenship. Not only will these protect them and their information, it will also protect their classmates and friends from misunderstandings or potentially dangerous situations.

What is Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety?

Internet Safety vs. Digital Citizenship

Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship are connected, but they are two separate ideas. While digital citizenship is focused on how behavior and actions spread and affect others on the web and the ways students should conduct themselves as good citizens of this digital world, internet safety includes concrete do's and don'ts to protect students. Where these two concepts meet is in the spread of information, whether it's the student's own personal information or personal information about a classmate.

Internet Safety

Internet safety is crucial at every age, and it's good to start instructing students about how to stay safe online while they're young. In a digital age, it's important for them to understand that things don't just disappear, and they should be conscious about the information they share. Additionally, the rise of sites that allow you to compile information (like age, names, interests, potential triggers, and more) make it easier for those with bad intentions to infiltrate seemingly safe spaces. Students should be reminded that while not everyone on the internet is out to harm them, they should still be careful who they trust, just like they would in real life.


  • Do use strong passwords and keep it secret. Don't make it easy for people to access your accounts!
  • Do use nicknames or screen names that don't contain personal information like your name or birthday.
  • Do talk to a trusted parent or guardian about the websites you are using.
  • Do tell a trusted adult if you are being cyberbullied or witness cyberbullying.
  • Do say no or leave a conversation if you feel uncomfortable and tell a trusted adult about it.
  • Do log off of websites when you are finished with them, especially on shared or public computers.


  • Don't give out your name, age, or location. A combination of these things can make it easy for someone to find you in real life.
  • Don't publicise mental health diagnoses that people can use to purposely trigger or manipulate you.
  • Don't provide information about other people's names, location, etc.
  • Don't participate in memes that ask for your first car, mother's maiden name, first pet, or other information that is often used in password recovery.
  • Don't talk to strangers or people you don't know.
  • Don't put anything online that you wouldn't want someone to find.
  • Don't click on links from people you don't know. If something looks suspicious and seems like it's from someone you know, ask a trusted adult before clicking!
  • Don't venture onto sites you know you shouldn't be on. Websites have restrictions for a reason!
  • Don't agree to meet someone online in real life. Tell a trusted adult if someone asks you to do this.

Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship is all about being a good citizen online, the same way you would in your school or community in real life. Students can practice this while they're playing online multiplayer games, chatting on social media, doing research or attending online class, or anything else they may do online! Technology can do powerful things, and it's important that students are able to harness that power while still being empathetic citizens of the world.

Digital Citizenship Tips

  • Speak up if you or someone else is being cyberbullied. Standing up for the person is the first step toward making sure others do the right thing, and a trusted adult should always be contacted.

  • Understand why sites have rules about users under 13! This is to protect you and your information, ensures you aren't seeing inappropriate content, and keeps you from being advertised to.

  • Check sources on news and information! Learning what a reliable source is and how to combat clickbait and misinformation will allow you to be able to better form an opinion on current events and use accurate research in papers.

  • Learn about copyright and creative commons. It's important to source any images or information you use in projects, but it's also important to remember that not every image should be used freely.

  • Interact with others the way you want to be treated. Be kind and thoughtful while speaking to or posting about others online. Make sure that others can't misinterpret your words or aren't hurt by them.

  • Think before you post! If you wouldn't want friends, parents, teachers, or future employers to see it, keep it to yourself. Your digital footprint is permanent, whether you think so or not.

Integrating Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety in the Classroom

One of the great challenges in teaching students how to be safe is to safely provide them with scenarios and situations that will require them to make a decision on how to act. It's easy to provide a list or a lecture, but teachers need to make sure that students fully understand what it means to be safe online or how to handle tough situations before they encounter them.

Posters and Infographics

Posters and infographics can be displayed in the classroom and are handy tools for conveying information in a clear and concise manner. They can be created by both teachers and students, so can be used as informational handouts or research projects.

Posters can be created to outline tips and tricks on digital safety, do's and don'ts of internet safety, or PSAs. We have an ever growing gallery of templates to choose from so that students and teachers can create the perfect poster. Infographics can display research students did on online safety, tips on creating a strong password, or even ways to stay safe. The completed projects can be printed and hung around the classroom or school to spread awareness!


Storyboard That is perfect for creating social stories. Illustrating internet safety tips or a situation that students might encounter helps students more fully comprehend how their actions can help or harm. Teachers can approach this type of activity a few different ways. Ideas for scenarios can include someone leaving their account logged in on a shared device, sexting, cyberbullying, or checking sources.

One way is to create a completed scenario and walk students through the example. Then ask students the following questions: What is happening? How did the student respond? Was what they did wrong or right? Why? This can be done as a class discussion or students can respond individually in a short writing assignment.

Another idea is to create a scenario and leave cells blank for students to fill in. This allows them to practice critical thinking and respond to the scenario as if they were involved. Teachers may choose to display student work afterward and hold a discussion with the class if there are any differences in answers (both right and wrong).

The next step would be to have students create their own scenario! They should illustrate a potential situation and demonstrate how to properly respond to it in order to stay safe. Teachers can ask students to present their scenarios and explain their choices in an activity that combines creativity and presentation skills.

Set students up for success in a digital world by giving them the tools they need to stay safe and kind. As things move further and further online, it's important to make sure they know what to do and what not to do. There's no need for scare tactics like the ones used in the 90s and 2000s, but students should be knowledgeable about the dangers of sharing information and how to protect themselves. Using Storyboard That makes it fun and easy!

Related Activities

How To Promote Digital Citizenship: Foster Responsible Digital Behavior By Teaching Students About Rights, Responsibilities, Privacy, And Online Etiquette


Introduce Digital Rights and Responsibilities

Teach students about their digital rights, such as privacy, freedom of expression, and responsible online behavior. Help them understand their responsibilities in using technology and participating in online communities.


Explore Online Privacy and Security

Educate students on the importance of protecting their personal information online. Teach them strategies to safeguard privacy, such as using strong passwords, being cautious with sharing personal details, and understanding the risks of oversharing.


Teach Online Etiquette and Respectful Communication

Guide students on practicing online etiquette and respectful communication. Discuss topics like netiquette, appropriate language, and being mindful of the impact of their words and actions on others in digital spaces.


Address Cyberbullying and Digital Harassment

Discuss the consequences of cyberbullying and digital harassment, and empower students to stand against such behavior. Teach them how to recognize, respond to, and report instances of cyberbullying, promoting a safe and inclusive online environment.


Develop Critical Thinking and Media Literacy Skills

Equip students with critical thinking and media literacy skills to navigate the vast digital landscape. Teach them to evaluate information sources, identify misinformation or fake news, and become discerning consumers of online content.


Encourage Digital Well-being and Balance

Foster discussions on digital well-being and the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between online and offline activities. Teach students strategies for managing screen time, promoting digital self-care, and nurturing positive relationships both online and offline.

Frequently Asked Questions about Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship

What is the difference between Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship?

Internet Safety focuses on concrete measures to protect oneself online, while Digital Citizenship is about promoting responsible and ethical behavior in the digital world. Internet Safety deals with personal protection, while Digital Citizenship encompasses how one's actions and behavior affect others online.

Why is Internet Safety important for students?

Internet Safety is crucial for students of all ages because it teaches them how to protect themselves online. It emphasizes the importance of being cautious about personal information, interacting with strangers, and understanding the potential risks and consequences of online activities.

What are some Internet Safety do's and don'ts for students?

Internet Safety do's include using strong passwords, talking to a trusted adult about the websites they use, and reporting cyberbullying incidents. Don'ts include giving out personal information, participating in risky online challenges, and clicking on suspicious links from unknown sources.

How can Storyboard That be used to teach Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship?

Storyboard That is a versatile tool for teaching Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship. It can be used to create visuals, such as posters and infographics, that provide information and raise awareness. It can also be used to create interactive scenarios where students can practice decision-making and critical thinking skills in relation to online safety and responsible digital behavior.

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