Just like in the real world, people also belong to one or more online communities in the digital world, which grants them their digital citizenship. As digital citizens, we have various rights and responsibilities; ideally, good online citizens should always act with respect for themselves and for the others. There are rules that dictate how we should act and behave so that everyone can stay safe and enjoy their use of the Internet:
Most of us are effective participants in the digital world, which means we post, comment and share photos, videos and other information about ourselves. Sometimes, this can be private or sensitive information that we don’t share publicly, but only with a friend or a selected group. Nonetheless, we are not always safe from hackers and online predators, so the best way to protect ourselves is to post only those things we wouldn’t mind everyone else seeing.
- Report harmful online behavior affecting you or someone else, either to the site’s authorities or to a parent or another adult you trust. Examples of harmful behavior include cyber bullying and online predators.
- Basic digital etiquette says to treat others the way you want to be treated, i.e., be respectful, polite, and positive. Unfortunately, many Internet users fail to act this way consistently. Really good online citizens thank people who have helped them in any way, and do their best to help others in need.
- Read carefully the rules and guidelines of each site you use, be it a classroom forum or a social networking site. These are community-specific rules that you need to know and follow.
- Practice safe online behavior. There are countless websites that offer useful Internet safety tips, but as a general guideline, never post or give your personal information, home/ school/ office address, passwords, etc. to someone you don’t know in real-life or you’ve just met. Don’t divulge this type of information about someone else, either.
- Don’t say anything online you wouldn’t say if the person were standing in front of you. Take responsibility for your actions even if you are sitting behind your computer or Smartphone. Think twice whether you really want to say it, and consider that the other can read your online comment over and over, which can make it even more hurtful than if you have said it to their face.
- Don’t post photos and comments that you cannot take back once you change your mind. Posting something online probably means it will be there forever for others to see or read. So, if you are not comfortable with it, don’t post it.
- Don’t believe everything you read online. The Internet is a place for manipulation, so do your own research before believing or sharing anything.
- Don’t share other people’s creations without their permission. If you do share someone else’s photos, videos, reports, blogs, articles, etc, in their entirety or just portions, ask permission first and give proper credit. Remember there are copyright laws that protect this type of content.
Do you have anything to add for responsible digital citizenship? Please share them in the comments section below.