Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kerry Burner


The rapid rise of technology, which has become embedded in all facets of 21st century society during the past decade, has fostered a corresponding rise in its misuse. Digital citizenship abuse, a relatively new phenomenon of this electronic age, is a rapidly growing global problem. Parents, schools, and society play roles in supporting appropriate online behavior. Schools must take the lead role to assess and address digital citizenship issues. This ex post facto study investigated the online actions of students in a medium-sized K-12 school district and explored possible causal relationships between online misbehavior and student grade and gender based on data collected from state and district surveys. Kohlberg's theory of moral development, Perkins and Berkowitz's social norms theory, and Bandura's social cognitive theory provided the study's theoretical base. Hypotheses were tested using independent-measures t values, a single-factor, independent-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA), and the chi-square test for independence. With respect to the four components of online student behavior---personal safety, digital citizenship, parental involvement, and cyberbullying---analyses determined that there are significant differences between grade level and gender. As the grade level increased, personal safety risks, digital citizenship abuse, and cyberbullying increased, while parental involvement decreased. Males had significantly more personal safety and digital citizenship issues than females but no significant gender difference for parental involvement. Implications for positive social change include raising awareness of local digital citizenship issues with parents, staff, and students, and ultimately mitigating and preventing student online risky behavior.