Learn how character strengths are key to navigating digital dilemmas.

two middle schoolers

Every day kids make tough decisions -- decisions that are often complicated by digital technology. How students respond to cyberbullying or decide what to share on social media can have a powerful impact on their futures. This is why we teach digital citizenship: Students need skills to think through digital dilemmas. As we teach students to navigate online challenges, we tend to focus on rules and procedures to help guide them. But there's another factor that's key to making good choices: character.

Character strengths encompass everything from feeling compassion to valuing teamwork to demonstrating self-control. They're soft skills, to be sure, but that doesn't make them any less significant. Imagine how a kid might respond to bullying if he or she hasn't learned to empathize with others first. Or what's to keep a student from spreading false information if they don't recognize the value of integrity? Character strengths are essential components to digital citizenship, and through social and emotional learning (SEL), we can give students the foundation to handle problems with clarity and heart.

That's why we've created a guide for all teachers: Digital Citizenship & Social and Emotional Learning. It contains a set of digital dilemmas that students may face at some point in their lives. Each dilemma comes with discussion questions to get students thinking and talking about character. Along with the questions, we've included some relevant digital citizenship lesson plans and suggested digital tools for building strengths -- like humility or perseverance -- after the conversation ends.

Check out our guide to spark meaningful conversations around character in your classroom:

Danny Wagner

Danny was Senior Editor, Education Reviews at Common Sense Education. His focus was on guiding the editorial direction of the Ratings & Reviews platform to discover the best in education technology. In addition to reviewing digital media for learning potential, Danny produced content and wrote articles for a variety of topics, including STEM and social and emotional learning. Previously, he was Curriculum Technology Integration Specialist for San Francisco Unified School District and a science and robotics teacher for a decade in the Midwest. Prior to his career in education, Danny worked as an Environmental Engineering consultant.