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What You Need to Know About Digital Citizenship

What do you know about digital citizenship? If it’s something you’ve never really thought about, it’s probably time to start. 

What is Digital Citizenship?

In any community, there are rules and customs that citizens must follow. Digital communities are no different. Digital citizenship is the idea that, when we use digital technology, we should be aware of how to act in a safe, smart, and respectful way. A person who has that knowledge is a digital citizen.

Why is Digital Citizenship Important?

In this digital age, it’s nearly impossible to separate your online and offline lives. You use digital technology to get information. You share pictures. You comment. You buy products. You play games. You do business. You take classes. 

But you aren’t really taught how to act online. When you download an app or visit a website, you aren’t given a list of social rules to follow. Since you spend so much of your time in the digital world, this lack of information can negatively affect you and others. All children and adults need to learn good habits to be positive members of online communities. 

What Should a Digital Citizen Think About?

Safety

When so much of your life is online, you need to protect yourself. Make sure you use complex passwords so they can’t be guessed easily. Use caution when clicking links, especially if you don’t know the sender. Only enter personal information on secure websites (look for “https” in the URL–the “s” stands for “secure”). Be careful when sharing personal information and photos, because you don’t know who might see them. 

Respect

When you use digital technology, it can be easy to forget you’re engaging with real people. Since digital citizenship means having positive online experiences, it’s important to respect yourself and the people you communicate with. Think about this: If you wouldn’t say or do something in person, don’t say or do it online. 

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is harassment that takes place on a digital device. As a digital citizen, you shouldn’t ignore cyberbullying, whether it’s happening to you or someone else. There are steps you can take, including blocking the person who is cyberbullying, keeping evidence of harassment, and reporting incidents. 

Logging Off

It might feel like your whole life is online, but it’s important to step away from digital technology regularly. A 2018 study suggests that limiting your use of social media to 30 minutes a day could improve your overall mental health. 

Copyrights

With digital technology, it’s easier than ever to access media such as publications, videos, and music. Unfortunately, this also means it’s just as easy to copy or misuse them. Copying or misusing the works of others is illegal, even if it’s unintentional. Make sure to learn about copyright laws in your country.

Digital Footprint

Whenever you do anything online, you’re creating a “trail” of information about yourself and your Internet usage, which is known as your digital footprint. There are things you can do to manage that footprint. Start by using privacy settings on your social media accounts, deleting accounts you no longer use, and limiting what you share. Check out more tips here.

Conclusion

Digital technology is part of life, whether you use it to socialize, work, or study. Make sure you know the basics of digital citizenship so you can contribute to a positive online experience.

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.

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