Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Flynn, Joseph E. (Associate professor)

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Education; Secondary--Data processing; Information society; Internet literacy


This dissertation analyzes how the concept of "digital citizenship" is conceptualized and furthered through three freely available curricula intended for use with high school students: NetSmartz, Digital Citizenship in Schools, and Common Sense Media. By employing a critical discourse analysis and examining the influence of sentence structure, collocational patterns, connotation, structural opposition, images and other tools used to craft and forward messages, I determined that the discoursed concept of "digital citizenship" aligns with traditional frameworks of citizenship education in schools, namely that of the personally responsible citizen. Much of the curricular documents are designed through a deficit perspective, making assumptions that teenagers are inherently approaching technology with ill intent, and that the lessons within will correct wrong-doing. Additionally, the curricula utilize a variety of 'technologies of governmentality', intended to mold and shape adolescent online behavior until it mirrors the societal norms for acceptable offline behavior. The curricula's narrow focus on shaping behavior and reinforcing traditional power structures between teens and adults is likely hindering the curricular opportunities students are being given to engage as citizens of global communities.


Advisors: Joseph Flynn.||Committee members: Michael Maderino; Stephen Tonks.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


ix, 266 pages




Northern Illinois University

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