Addressing digital citizenship with the “Digital Citizenship Survival Kit”. 

GUEST COLUMN | by Craig Badura

Badura kitIt’s a simple little prop I use when teaching Digital Citizenship to our pK-12 Aurora Huskies students, but I think it sends a powerful message. I love utilizing props to try to get my point across to students and thought that creating a kit full of props would be a great way to reinforce a very important topic in our schools. Let me introduce you to Mr. Badura’s “Digital Citizenship Survival Kit.”  Each of the items has a purpose and I go through each item with students when teaching. Below are the items I have in my “Digital Citizenship Survival Kit” and what each item represents. I encourage you to copy, modify my kit and create your own kit when addressing the issue of Digital Citizenship with your students!

Padlock. The padlock is to remind students to set strong passwords and to set up passcode locks on all of their digital devices. “Lock ’em down” as we like to say in our Digital Citizenship lessons.

Toothbrush. I tell students to think that passwords and toothbrushes are very similar in the fact that you never want to share passwords (I do highly encourage/recommend that students share passwords with their parents).

Permanent Marker. Everything that you put online is permanent—even if you hit the delete button after posting. Odds are, someone has retweeted, favorited—or taken a screenshot of the material if it was questionable.

Tube of Toothpaste. Imagine the information that you are putting online is like the toothpaste coming out of the tube. Once it is out, it is almost impossible to get it all back in the tube!

Packet of Seeds. Any packet of seeds will do for your kit. I stress to all of our #aurorahuskies students that what they are doing now—could have an impact on them in the future. I want our students to think about the “seeds” that they are sowing as they traverse the World Wide Web. Could the seeds they are planting grow into a bigger problem? Or is their plant going to be a strong, positive representation of who they are?

Plug In. I used a six-foot extension cord and cut it so that I have the male and female ends together. I stress to students that it is okay to “unplug” (unplug as you are discussing). We don’t have to be connected all the time! Get outside and be a kid!

Mirror. Imagine having the mirror attached to your computer or device. If you looked in it and saw someone in the reflection, would they approve of what you are doing or saying online?

Sheet of Paper. One of the most powerful items in the kit. I had read about this idea in a blog, and I enjoy using this with students. I take a new sheet of paper and hand it to a student, instructing them to wad it up into a ball. I then tell them to throw it on the ground and stomp on it.  I then have them pick up the piece of paper and I unravel it in front of the class. I tell the student that ruined the piece of paper to apologize to the piece of paper for destroying it. I get some weird looks and giggles, but after the student apologizes to the piece of paper, then I tell the students that the piece of paper represents someone’s heart that has been cyberbullied. We can apologize all we want, but the emotional scars that remain inside—don’t—go away.

Magnifying Glass. Remember when first impressions started with a handshake? Now, they start with Google. People are using Google to find out information about us. What will show up when someone searches you on Google?

Strainer. The amount of information on the Internet is amazing! As digital citizens, your students have to be good at “straining” out the bad stuff, what is real, what’s not—and finding material that is applicable to their search and use of the Internet.

Tattoos. I am planning on using the term “Digital Tattoo” this year instead of “Digital Footprint.” I have always displayed an image of a footprint in the sand when discussing this issue, but footprints in the sand can be washed away. Tattoos are a lot harder to get rid of.

Notebook. I simply tell students to imagine all of the things they do while online. Now imagine if it were kept in a journal. Would they be comfortable if anyone could read that journal?

Soap. Too many times I see students that are posting, tweeting, and retweeting information that is not appropriate. Remind them to keep it clean!

Band-Aids. Our students are going to make mistakes. Kevin Honeycutt talks about how, when you and I were younger, we made mistakes—but our mistakes weren’t Googleable. The mistakes kids make today will be Googleable. Hopefully, our mistakes won’t be too big. If a Band-Aid won’t help, then we have a problem!

Pet Tie-Out Cable. I use this prop when utilizing the kit with parents. I encourage parents to set limits when it comes to being online at home. Set limits!

Craig Badura (@mrbadura), is pK-12 Intergration Specialist for Aurora Public Schools in Aurora, Nebraska. Write to: or visit his blog.