Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. Since the rise of the Internet, we have become more and more present online, governed by a specific set of regulations which we have to abide by. We are citizens of this digital world if we live, work, learn, do business, and communicate in it the same way we do in real life.
Nine elements make digital citizenship:
- Digital access is about the equitable distribution of technology and online resources. Technology users need to be aware that not everyone has the same opportunities when it comes to technology. Working toward equal digital rights and supporting electronic access is the starting point of digital citizenship.
- Digital commerce is the electronic buying and selling of goods. It focuses on the tools and safeguards put in place to assist those buying, selling, or using money in any way in the digital space.
- Digital communication is the electronic exchange of information. One of the significant changes within the digital revolution is a person’s ability to communicate with other people. In the 21st-century, communication options have exploded to offer a wide variety of choices (e.g., e-mail, cellular phones, instant messaging). The expanding digital communication options have changed everything because people are able to keep in constant communication with each other, anywhere and anytime. Unfortunately, many users have not been taught how to make appropriate decisions when faced with so many different digital communication options.
- Digital literacy is the process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology. A renewed focus must be made on what technologies must be taught as well as how it should be used. Today’s career and technical education use technology tools available to show students the path for their future. In addition, workers in many different occupations need immediate information (just-in-time information). This process requires sophisticated searching and processing skills (i.e., information literacy.) Learners must be taught how to learn in a digital society. In other words, learners must be taught to learn anything anytime, anywhere. As new technologies emerge, learners need to learn how to use that technology quickly and appropriately. Digital citizenship involves educating people in a new way – these individuals need a high degree of information literacy skills.
- Digital etiquette stands for electronic standards of conduct or procedure. It is related to the process of thinking about others when using digital devices. Teachers can include digital etiquette as part of the classroom rules or academic goals. Whether in the classroom or online, being aware of others is an important notion for everyone.
- Digital law refers to electronic responsibility for actions and deeds. Digital law deals with the ethics of technology within a society. Unethical use manifests itself in the form of theft and/or crime. Ethical use manifests itself in the form of abiding by the laws of society. Users need to understand that stealing or causing damage to other people’s work, identity, or property online is a crime. There are certain social rules that users need to be aware of in an ethical society. These laws apply to anyone who works or plays online. Hacking into others’ information, downloading illegal music, plagiarizing, creating destructive worms and viruses, sending spams, or stealing anyone’s identity or property is unethical.
- Digital rights and responsibilities are those requirements and freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world. Just as the well-known human rights, there is also a basic set of rights extended to every digital citizen. Digital citizens have the right to privacy, free speech, etc. Basic digital rights must be addressed, discussed, and understood in the digital world. With these rights also come responsibilities. Users must help define how the technology is to be used in an appropriate manner. In a digital society, these two areas must work together for everyone to be productive.
- Digital health and wellness refers to the physical and psychological well-being in a digital world. Eye safety, repetitive stress syndrome, and sound ergonomic practices are issues that need to be addressed in a new technological world. Beyond the physical issues are psychological concerns that are becoming more prevalent such as internet addiction. Users need to be taught that there are inherent dangers of technology. Digital citizenship includes a culture where technology users are taught to protect themselves through education and training.
- Digital security and privacy is the electronic precautions that need to be implemented to guarantee safety. Just like an illness, viruses, worms, and other bots can spread from one system to another. Understanding and preventing attacks is an important skill to have today and in the future when using devices.
As digital citizens, we need to create content that provides positive experiences for others and acknowledge that our actions have consequences. An online environment should be safe and invulnerable, and should also promote a better understanding of all its implications and contribute to educating users for long term positive outcomes.