The purpose of this study is to develop a theory-based digital citizenship scale building on calibrated and inclusive components of digital citizenship. Although understanding what informed and engaged citizens mean in the current digitalized and networked society is important in social studies education, there is a dearth of research on a well-developed measurement scale to evaluate the degree of digital citizenship among young adults. This study included a multi-step scale development effort designed to measure young adults’ perception and behavior with regard to digital citizenship.
The study had three phases to create a reliable, valid instrument to measure young adults’ perceptions of digital citizenship: 1) Phase One included a concept analysis of digital citizenship for initial item generation and content validity of the scale. Thirty articles, six white papers, four book chapters and seventeen blogs/websites were coded and analyzed, 2) Phase Two involved continuous revision of initial items through expert review, providing evidence of face validity and content validity for scale items, and 3) Phase Three consisted of final administration for assessment of digital citizenship, along with correlation studies with Internet self- efficacy and Internet anxiety scales for construct validity.
This study addressed the core elements of digital citizenship and how these elements changed over the last decade using a concept analysis methodology. Four categories for defining digital citizenship were identified: Ethics, Media and Information Literacy, Participation/Engagement, and Critical Resistance. Using a total of 508 respondents, a 26-item five-factor model was extracted from Exploratory Factor Analysis, which was cross-validated by Confirmatory Factor Analysis: Technical Skills, Local/Global Awareness, Networking Agency, Internet Political Activism, and Critical Perspectives. The digital citizenship scale presented in this study had respectable reliability and construct validity, evidenced by the significant relationships with Internet self-efficacy and Internet anxiety. From the development of the scale, the researcher developed a general definition of digital citizenship as abilities, thinking, and action regarding the Internet use, which allows people to understand, navigate, engage in, and transform self, community, society, and the world.
As a first attempt to create more advanced and theory-based digital citizenship scale items, this study will help to better understand individuals’ sense of digital citizenship as members of online communities participating in everyday life on local, national, and global levels. These comprehensive, inter-related, and multidimensional elements of digital citizenship can play a significant role in developing ultimate goals of citizenship education while supporting underlying themes for social studies teacher education in the information age.