Responsible Digital Citizenship & Online Safety

Published by Wranga at July 29, 2022

Written by Dr. Ashish K Das, PhD

Disney Star & Wranga launched its report on ‘Responsible Digital CItizenship & Online Safety’ on 29 July 2022. This report is based on the findings of an online survey, expert panel discussions, and workshops conducted in schools with students, teachers and parents. We have developed the curriculum and workshop module on digital citizenship and online safety to be integrated in schools for enabling youth to be a responsible digital citizen. This report is prepared and research conducted by the lead researcher and author Dr. Ashish K Das, Amitabh Kumar, and Pratishtha Arora.

Disney Star in collaboration with Wranga initiated a project on Responsible Digital Citizenship as part of its commitment to promote positive use of technologies and online safety. It aims to contribute in the domain of digital education for creative expression, learning and participation of students as responsible digital citizens as well as for their digital well-being. It also involves key stakeholders: teachers, parents, educational institutions, Government and its agencies, NGOs/CSOs, online platforms and its legal and cyber security experts for wider consultations. The project in its first phase has done extensive research and completed four main tasks i.e. a). Survey, b). FGDs/Expert Panel, c). Workshop/Training, d). Module Framework & Curriculum Design.

The research was conducted to find out the pedagogical gaps in the Indian school education on digital citizenship; assess proficiency of students with digital safety tools, their online behaviour and preferred modes of learning; understand the concerns of parents about internet usage of their children and on the importance of digital citizenship; know teacher’s perspectives on the meaning and implications of responsible digital citizenship; and to understand the digital experience of youth along with their rights, responsibilities and law.

The project involved both primary and secondary research using mixed methods. An extensive review of the literature and existing curriculum on digital education across the globe has been done for VI-XII Grades. We have conducted an online survey of IX-XII Grades students through a structured questionnaire. The survey was designed on internet usage, online behaviour, safety, privacy, plagiarism, piracy, learning, creativity and civic engagement. It comprised questions with multiple choice and checkboxes to select from a list of choices including dichotomous, three-point and five-point scale. Questions were formulated to gauge their attitude, behaviour, knowledge and perception on the subject and its issues. The questionnaire was prepared keeping in mind the age-appropriate factor for students. Purposive sampling of students was done following the COPPA regulation for 13+ age groups. We have also used the purposive sampling to identify schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) of which some were also part of the CBSE accreditation pilot study. The survey along with its questionnaire was further approved by the concerned school authority after due consultation with teachers and parents to conduct the same. The data collected were also fully anonymised by the school authority itself and after that only their responses were analysed for the purpose of research. Out of 842 respondents, 175 (20.8%) students of class IX, 120 (14.3%) of class X, 231 (27.4%) students of class XI and 316 (37.5%) students of class XII participated in the survey during January - April, 2022.

On the topics students would like to be taught in school, the majority of them opted for Legal Protection, Internet Privacy & Cyber Wellness in the survey. On questions of Plagiarism & Piracy most of them nearly 60 - 70% admitted that they or someone they know have copied without credit and downloaded/ streamed content for free without payment. The findings of the survey also suggests that most of the students i.e. nearly 70% are concerned about their online privacy and safety. The major online threats they perceive are about the inappropriate use of photos, setting up fake profiles or misrepresenting online, taking photos/screenshots without permission and circulating, coming across inappropriate images/content, and unwanted approaches in chat rooms, social networking sites or on email. Fake News/ Misinformation is another big concern as 84% said that they or someone they know have come across it online. On the positive side, an overwhelming 80-90% of students think that the internet has helped to broaden their horizon and they prefer to use it for learning new things and creative expression.

The report concludes with the following recommendations:

  1. Digital Awareness Sessions in Schools
  2. Mandatory Digital CItizenship Curriculum
  3. Courses on Online Safety and Digital CItizenship
  4. Encourage Open Communication Amongst Stakeholders

And the way forward, to scale up the project with participation from other states/ rural and tribal areas of India including government schools to make it more inclusive and diverse and further develop a comprehensive curriculum and workshop module for meaningful learning.

Click here to download the report Responsible Digital Citizenship & Online Safety