Apr 11, 2017

Original Publication

April 2017
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Olivia Van Ledtje might only be nine years old, but already she has a global following. She loves to read, and she records a video blog called LivBits in which she shares information about the books she has read and her observations about life in general. Her vlog is so popular that she just launched a Twitter account, @thelivbits, last July—and already she has more than 18,000 followers! I think there are two key lessons about digital citizenship that educators at all levels can learn from Liv.

1. Social media is a great way to connect with subject matter experts, extend your knowledge, and even engage with people you admire.

In a podcast I recorded with Liv last October, she revealed that her biggest surprise in using Twitter was hearing from one of her favorite authors, Victoria Jamieson.

“I was reading Roller Girl, and I hashtagged something from the book—‘tougher, stronger, fearless’—and she tweeted at me,” Liv said.

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Imagine how inspiring it can be for students when somebody famous they look up to engages with them on social media! As I said to Liv, when I was her age, that wasn’t something I ever would have dreamed of. But with social media, it’s entirely possible to connect with anyone at all.

Liv says she gets ideas from people all over the world from being on Twitter. One of her favorite follows is Kristin Ziemke, a Chicago-area teacher and staff developer. She is selective about who she follows: “I see what they’re passionate about, see what they like, and see if I’m interested in what they’re doing,” she says. “If I am, then I follow them.”

Liv is using social media to expand her worldview, learn from other experts, and even connect with people she admires. She is learning about global and digital citizenship by extending her personal learning network online, which is a lesson that applies to both students and educators alike.

2. Even our youngest students can be active on social media if they understand the rules.

Liv credits her mother with teaching her about the rules of good digital citizenship and how to be safe and respectful online. And she has a message for educators who might be concerned about letting their students on social media at an early age: “I think teachers should let kids go on social media,” she says, “not to look at anybody random but to look at authors’ posts to learn more about that author.”

I’m excited to say that Liv will be sharing more about her experience with social media and her insights on digital citizenship at an early age as one of the keynote speakers at the 2018 Building Learning Communities conference in Boston July 25-27. For more information or to register for the conference, click here.


  1. Hi Alan, I think it is great that Liv is sharing, but I always struggle with should younger children be creating accounts on Twitter or Gmail when they are under age, not 13. Interested in your thoughts.
    Twitter’s Terms of Use:
    “1. Who May Use the Services
    You may use the Services only if you agree to form a binding contract with Twitter and are not a person barred from receiving services under the laws of the applicable jurisdiction. In any case, you must be at least 13 years old to use the Services. If you are accepting these Terms and using the Services on behalf of a company, organization, government, or other legal entity, you represent and warrant that you are authorized to do so.”

    • This is something that we are struggling with at our school also. We have told our teachers that they cannot require students to create social media accounts for class because of the age restrictions.

  2. I think part of digital citizenship is knowing and following terms of service. I often tell parents, “There may be 11 year olds who are mature enough to be on social media, and we know there are 70 year olds who are not. That said, I am concerned that Alan has chosen to highlight this student, who is obviously getting great support in her passions, but is grossly out of compliance with best practice.


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