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Keely Blanch, PhD candidate

Young people’s understanding of (digital) citizenship


Digital citizenship can be considered a new form of citizenship practice that moves traditional citizenship practices and ways of being into digitally-mediated and globally interconnected spaces. Yet citizenship is complex and understood in multiple ways and these multiple understandings are likely to inform young people’s understandings and practices of (digital) citizenship.

My research explores young people’s understandings of the concept of digital citizenship and how this affects their digital practices. I take a qualitative, poststructuralist approach to explore young New Zealanders’ (aged 16-25) lived experiences of (digital) citizenship and digital participation. My findings indicate that these young people demonstrate both collective and individualistic understandings of (digital) citizenship across interrelational spaces. For these young people, digital citizenship may be seen as a continuum of digitally-mediated practices building towards an ‘ideal’.

This study can further develop understanding of the ways young people experience belonging and connectedness with and within society, both offline and online. This has implications for the teaching of concepts of citizenship and digital citizenship in schools. The findings are therefore likely to be of interest to educators developing curriculum goals and practices in any subjects using technology in learning activities, and may potentially provide insights into wider patterns of civic participation by young people.


Dr Susan Sandretto (Primary supervisor)
Professor Karen Nairn (Secondary supervisor)