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Online Safety, ITL, & Social and Emotional Learning

To teach the skills of Online Safety is to empower students to use digital tools while practicing safe and healthy behavior.  Students need to be able to think critically when making decisions in the face of digital situations.  The Wisconsin Standards for Information and Technology Literacy (ITL) lay the groundwork for this teaching and spell out the skills students need to be successful in such situations.  The Empowered Learner and Digital Citizen content strands of the ITL standards speak specifically to the knowledge and skills students need to take ownership of and model positive online behavior. 

 Social and emotional learning is the connection to perspective and the ability to understand how decisions will affect others.  Students need to demonstrate empathy, compassion, respect, and intelligent behavior while navigating and making decisions online.  These behaviors need to be taught and modeled in school AND at home for students to truly understand the impact.  Social and emotional learning skills are crucial in connecting character and healthy online decisions. The Wisconsin Standards for Information and Technology Literacy align with the Wisconsin Social and Emotional Learning competencies and can be easily integrated into any content area (see below).

Social and Emotional Learning PK-12 School Infographic

How ESSA can Support Social and Emotional Learning

Raising Caring Kids - UW Extensions website

Click image to view or download Google document entire crosswalk (PDF version here)

Connecting Online Safety & Social and Emotional Learning

Helping students navigate social interactions in the digital age is crucial in their development of social and emotional learning capacities.  Digital tools and resources provide the opportunity to teach these skills in new and innovative ways.  Below you will find connections between the Online Safety topics and the Social and Emotional Competencies.  You will also find some highlighted resources to help with integrating these into your classroom. (If you have trouble accessing any of the samples below, you may need to create a free account on NetSmartz and NSTeens)



Helping students to understand their morals and beliefs will allow them to better navigate interactions, especially when online.  Will they join in when someone is being bullied or will they stand up for the victim? Providing situations in a classroom setting will give students the opportunity to dissect the situation and reflect on the importance of being a digital citizen.  They can also generate ideas about support systems that exist and how they can be used in these different situations.

Sample Lesson (via NetSmartz):

(find more resources for this topic at NetSmartz and Common Sense Education)


Digital Citizenship

Being a Digital Citizen means knowing what is right and wrong, exhibiting intelligent technology behavior, and making responsible choices when online. Helping students develop empathy, compassion, and integrity lead to a deeper understanding of right and wrong when facing tough digital situations. Providing opportunities for students to build these skills in a controlled environment will allow them to visualize the potential dangers that exist when navigating the digital world and the impact decisions have on other people. 
Sample Lesson (via NSTeens)

(find more resources for this topic at NetSmartz and Common Sense Education)


Digital Footprint

A digital footprint (or sometimes called digital tattoo) is the information that exists online about you and your activity. Information that is posted online becomes permanent and follows you wherever you go.  Colleges, universities, and employers are spending more time screening social media apps and doing Google searches of prospective students/employees.  Helping students understand how the information they post about themselves and others impacts their personal life, school, and the community will lead to safer online behavior and more responsible choices.

Sample Lesson (via NSTeens)

(find more resources for this topic at NetSmartz and Common Sense Education)


Digital Relationships

With such a large part of most students' lives being online, interactions with others is inevitable.  Online relationships can be a very healthy and powerful part of a student's life.  The drawback, not all interactions online are positive.  Taking time to navigate online situations with students will provide them with the social and critical thinking skills they need to make safe and healthy choices while building online relationships with others.  Students need to call on their own morals and ethics to create a code of conduct to deal with in-person and digital situations.

Sample Lesson (via NSTeens)

(find more resources for this topic at NetSmartz and Common Sense Education)



Students tend to share information, quite freely, about their everyday life online without even thinking about it.  Students sign up for new apps, order from online stores, and bank from their personal and school devices.  When teaching online skills, it is important to help students understand what information is OK to share and what information should be kept private.  We should also be teaching the skills to recognize fake emails (phishing scams) so students can decipher digital communications.

Sample Lessons (via Common Sense Education)

(find more resources for this topic at NetSmartz and Common Sense Education)


Social Media

Social media apps and programs give all students a voice.  This can be a very powerful opportunity or a negative consequence.  It is important to help students call on empathy and their personal emotions before getting involved in peer-related activities online. Students should take time to reflect on these emotions before participating in any online social media interactions, whether it be liking a post, commenting on a picture, or taking part in bullying a fellow classmate.

Sample Lesson (via NSTeens)

(find more resources for this topic at NetSmartz and Common Sense Education)

Additional Resources


Edutopia - Social and Emotional Learning resources for creating a healthy school culture

Common Sense Education - Social and Emotional Learning Educator Toolkit

CASEL - Framework for WI SEL competencies


For questions about this information, contact Amanda Albrecht (608) 267-1071