It’s safe to say that most of us, from children to adults, spend some portion of our day plugged into the vast web of information that is the internet. As digital tools have become increasingly present in our lives, we’ve made computers, tablets, and smartphones some of our main sources of information and entertainment, and their role in both our work and recreational lives continues to grow. With this presence comes worries about digital devices and screen time: how much is too much? What shouldn’t I share online? And how do I help my kids have a healthy relationship with technology? As much as some of us may wish to quit the information age and go offline, the reality is that we generally need to find ways to survive, and thrive, within the digital space.
There are lots of terms, like digital literacy or online safety, thrown around when it comes to managing our relationship with technology, but one of my personal favorites is the idea of digital citizenship. Rather than suggesting that you should throw out your phone and burn your computer, digital citizenship says that we have the power to use technology to effect positive change and connect with one another. Aspects of digital citizenship include balancing online and offline activities, engaging respectfully on the internet, and using technology to put good out into the world, instead of getting bogged down in online nastiness. Whether you’re looking to shape up your own digital citizenship skills or introduce a child to basic concepts of digital safety, these books will help you develop a saner, more positive, relationship to the digital world.
Digital Citizenship Books for Kids
But I Read It on the Internet! (Mrs. Skorupski Story) by Toni Buzzeo and Sachiko Yoshikawa
When Hunter and Carmen disagree on whether or not George Washington really had wooden teeth, their teacher, Mrs. Skorupski, invites them to use her website evaluation tips to find out. This is a great book for opening up discussions about safe searches, evaluating online information, and how misinformation can be spread using the internet.
Once Upon a Time… Online: Happily Ever After Is Only a Click Away! By David Bedford and Rosie Reeve
When Little Red Riding Hood gets her very own laptop, she’s thrilled! Soon she’s messaging with all kinds of new friends and visiting online sites, hoping to find happily ever after inside her computer. But, Red doesn’t know that there are Big Bad Wolves online, just like in her fairytales. A great book for introducing kids to the concept of being careful about chatting online.
hello! hello! By Matthew Cordell
Lydia loves saying hello, and sometimes her family even says it back, but only from behind their devices. So Lydia decides to take matters into her own hands: she ventures outside to find something beyond screens to say hello to, and discovers a colorful and exciting world. A great book for both kids and adults about the importance of balance when using technology and the need for connections in real life, not just online.
#Goldilocks: A Hashtag Cautionary Tale by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross
Everyone loves watching Goldilocks’s hilarious online videos; she’s a star of the digital age! In a quest to get even more followers, Goldilocks decides to pull some pranks, like sleeping in a bear’s bed and stealing porridge. But what happens when her online antics get her in trouble with the Bear Family? If your child likes this cautionary tale of social media fame, be sure to check out Willis & Ross’s other digital citizenship titles: Chicken Clicking and Troll Stinks!
Digital Citizenship Books for Adults
How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price
Like a lot of us, Catherine Price was in the habit of constantly reaching for her phone, whether it was first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Looking to form an actual, healthy relationship with such an addicting piece of technology, Price dove into researching how phones hook us in, and what we can do to manage their pull on our time. With practical steps and well-researched advice, this is a must-have guide for anyone caught in the endless act of scrolling.
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble
We’re often told that one of the best things about computers and algorithms is that they have an ability to be objective that humans lack, but is that really true? In this book, Safiya Umoja Noble takes us into the design of search engines and shows how, far from being unbiased, these search engines are being used to perpetuate and reinforce racist ideas in our society. With in-depth textual analysis and an examination of the implications of using these sites for so much in our lives, this painstakingly researched look at how search engines operate will radically shift your perspective on using them.
AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan
Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan have structured their book around a central question: how will artificial intelligence change our world within 20 years? Looking at everything from military strategy and economic policy to job relocations and how we learn, this book presents the discussion through ten short stories, each of which explores future possibilities in the world of AI.
From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in a Digital Age Edited by Danielle Allen and Jennifer S. Light
We all know that the internet plays a large role in political and social issues today, but what exactly is the effect of online political participation and how does it shape our offline world? In From Voice to Influence, Allen and Light bring together a range of experts in this field to write about everything from the challenges in separating public and private social media to the topics of sharing current events in real-time and issues of digital “slacktivism.” This book is crucial for anyone looking to understand how online behaviors and speech interact with politics, and how we can use our online influence to bring about positive change.
Are you looking for more reading material to help you dive into all things digital? Check out our technology archives!