DIGITAL ETHICS: 3. Teaching Digital Ethics

Subjects: Digital Literacy, Ethics & Communities
Grade Level: All
Source: Cable in the Classroom

It’s surprisingly easy to teach digital ethics and establish an ethical culture in your classroom or home. Here are five steps to get you started, with links you can follow to learn more:

  1. Discuss the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics* and post them near the computer(s).
  2. Your school district may already have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) governing students’ conduct on computers and the Internet. Your students can be involved in enforcing it and, if none exists, in creating one. At home, create your own AUP. You’ll find guidelines here: Sample Acceptable Use Policy for Home
  3. Model ethical behavior.
  4. Reinforce your students’ ethical behavior.
  5. Draw parallels between appropriate behaviors off line and similar situations online. Demeaning someone is just as bad online as it is in person and plagiarism is still plagiarism whether it's copying from a book or a Web site.
*The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics
  1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
  2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people’s computer work.
  3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people’s computer files.
  4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
  5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
  6. Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid.
  7. Thou shalt not use other people’s computer resources without authorization or proper compensation.
  8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output.
  9. Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing.
  10. Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that ensure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.
The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics was written by Dr. Ramon C. Barquin, President of the Computer Ethics Institute and is reproduced here with permission.

Teaching Resources

Ethics in a Digital Age, by Hilarie B. Davis, Ed.D.

Education World's Tools for Teaching Cyber Ethics

Johnson, Doug. (2003). Learning Right from Wrong in the Digital Age: An Ethics Guide for Parents, Teachers, Librarians, and Others Who Care About Computer-Using Young People. Worthington, OH: Linworth Publishing

Doug Johnson's Ethics Page


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