How to Be a Responsible Digital Citizen

Three Parts:Respecting Yourself and Others OnlineAdvocating for Digital Citizenship AwarenessProtecting Yourself Online

Responsible digital citizenship is becoming more and more important as we increasingly communicate, shop, and otherwise share information online. Being a responsible digital citizen means using technology appropriately and operating online safely and knowledgeably. Several aspects of digital citizenship have been widely recognized.[1] Understanding and operating according to the concept of responsible digital citizenship can help you respect, educate, and protect yourself and others online.[2]

Part 1
Respecting Yourself and Others Online

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    Behave with etiquette while online. Practice digital etiquette by following the proper standards of conduct and procedure online.[3] Model appropriate behavior when online, and be willing to teach and discuss digital etiquette with others, both online and in person. Most importantly: Be polite! Actively seek to present a positive image of yourself online. Appropriate digital etiquette also requires that you:
    • Reduce your sarcasm. Since facial expressions and body language cannot be conveyed via text, sarcastic comments can easily be perceived negatively.[4]
    • Do not escalate disagreements. Do not use harsh, crass, or aggressive language.
    • Do not take part in cyber-bulling. Speak up when you witness cyber-bullying. Support the target of the harassment, and acknowledge that those users who are bullying are behaving inappropriately.[5]
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    Exchange information properly. Digital communication, or the electronic exchange of information and correspondence, is rapidly becoming the main form of communication between one another. Take care, however, with what you post online. Do not share personal information electronically with people you do not know and on websites you do not trust. Understand that some forms of communication are more appropriate to undertake in person.[6] Specifically:
    • Do not post about your vacation plans, your income, and anything that might endanger you or someone else in any way.
    • Do not post about your personal feelings regarding your job or a relationship. Have emotional or important conversations in private with the other people involved.
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    Follow the law. There are specific legal rights and restrictions governing the use of electronic technologies.[7] Know that you are legally accountable for your online behavior. Educate yourself about copyright and fair use policies if you are unsure of the legality with which you want to acquire any form of media available online. Be especially careful using peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing services.[8] More specifically:[9]
    • Do not steal money, intellectual property, or someone else’s identity.
    • Do not damage other people’s work, identity, or online property.
    • Do not download music or movies that were made available illegally.
    • Do not create destructive malware, programs, or websites.
    • Do not send spam.

Part 2
Advocating for Digital Citizenship Awareness

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    Advocate the use of new technologies. Work to improve digital literacy by learning and teaching others about the availability and uses of new technology.[10] Recognize that new technologies are emerging with greater and greater frequency. Being a responsible digital citizen requires we know how to use these technologies appropriately.[11] Furthermore, recognize that teachers now need continual training on how to properly use technology in the classroom. Ensure that your children and those children in the school nearest your home are digitally literate by calling and asking whether they have a plan to increase students’ digital literacy. There are several curricula and lesson plans available online to help guide educators.[12]
    • The New York City Department of Education has made a comprehensive guide called “Citizenship in the Digital Age” that includes lesson plans for grades K-12.[13]
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    Ensure digital access. Digital access refers to the degree to which people are able to participate electronically in society.[14] Be welcoming when interacting with others online. There are also more active ways to advocate for the increase of digital access for all people, regardless of socioeconomic status, abilities, and physical location. An important policy issue today is providing equitable access to technology for all students, and there are many organizations working to achieve this goal.[15] Here are a few other ways you can help increase digital access:
    • Lobby your local politicians to prioritize public access to the internet and the availability of computer equipment for public use. Support those politicians and community organizers work for these causes.
    • Contribute your unused technological equipment to your local library or a school that can use it.
    • Volunteer with an organization that works to increase digital access.
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    Recognize your own and others’ rights and responsibilities. Digital rights and responsibilities help to shape and ensure the freedoms that everyone should be able to enjoy online.[16] Note that rights come with responsibilities. Be aware of you own rights and responsibilities in the location and network you are using, and share this information with others if they are not behaving accordingly. This knowledge includes the degree of your freedom of speech and your freedom to visit most public websites. Respect everyone you interact with online, and ensure that your own rights are not being violated.
    • Contribute to positive, respectful conversations about your rights and responsibilities as a digital citizen to help define the proper use of new technologies as society progresses.

Part 3
Protecting Yourself Online

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    Maintain digital security. Take precautions with your technological equipment and online behavior to protect yourself as well as the material you share online. Be especially cautious with information associated with your identity. These are all important measure to operate with digital security:
    • Install virus protection on the equipment you use to go online.
    • Be cautious when opening up email attachments and clicking links.[17]
    • Back up your data, preferably in multiple safe locations.
    • Use a surge protector to protect your equipment from more tangible dangers such as electrical surges during increment weather, etc.
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    Pay attention to your health. Though you may not picture sitting at a computer as dangerous or unhealthy, your health and wellness are effected by your digital lifestyle. Be aware of the physical and psychological effects of operating in a digital world. Protect yourself from these dangers, and encourage others to stay aware as well. Some risks involved with heavy use of computers and other online devices include:[18]
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
    • Eye strain.
    • Poor posture.
    • Internet addiction.
    • Repetitive stress syndrome.
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    Engage in digital commerce responsibly. Digital commerce encapsulates purchasing and selling goods and services online.[19] Be aware of the risks associated with this practice. Make only well-informed and safe decisions before engaging in online transactions. Many goods and services available online are not lawfully allowed to be possessed in certain countries. Be sure that any transactions you take part in are legal and legitimate.

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Categories: Information Technology in the Classroom | Learning Techniques and Student Skills