By engaging in society through the use of digital technology appropriately and respectfully, we become a digital citizen. We can be good digital citizens and fulfill our digital lives and activities as we pursue an education, profession, and other activities. In acknowledging elements of digital citizenship, we develop habits for lifelong learning. It is vital to safeguard our digital lives consciously and habitually, not just by learning how to post online with accountability but also by sustaining and enriching our digital lifestyles.
My digital citizenship mantra is ‘Exploring and Enriching the Digital World.’ Since the construction of digital and online technology is needed for many things, such as personal and professional development and education, we should embrace the enthusiastic, optimistic and proactive use of technology for good causes (Ribble, Bailey, & Ross, 2004). Nourishing and creating opportunities for the digital world is how to provide enrichment.
Instead of becoming addicted to technology, detaching ourselves from our digital activities, or misusing technology intentionally, we can establish boundaries to control and manage stress and online cravings. Additionally, we sometimes need to remember to keep ourselves healthy by taking breaks or managing our online time.
The nine elements of Digital Citizenship (Ribble, 2011) are important for every digital citizen to understand. The nine elements are: digital access, digital commerce, digital communication, digital literacy, digital etiquette, digital law, digital rights and responsibilities, digital health and wellness, and digital security (Ribble, 2011). Ribble (2011) divided the elements into three categories: Respect, Educate and Protect (REPs).
Respect Yourself and Others
The first three elements relate to ‘respecting yourself and others’. Digital etiquette is treating others with respect and humanity while communicating or using technology online. Treating everyone equally and appropriately in the online society is essential. I believe at any moment, governments or companies can remove their own platforms or sites from the digital society or remove users from their sites for any reason. Maintaining our positive reputation online as we would our own physical life is vital. One issue is cyberbullies who use technology to hassle, weaken, or attack others in hostile acts. Digital citizens should not leave any cyberbullies free or leave abusive acts unaddressed because victims may need our help and support (Carle, 2011; Hinduja & Patchin, 2014). Cyberbullying is inevitable and confusing. Cyberbullies can disappear to anywhere in the vast digital world and attack new victims. However, there may be underlying reasons that they bully others, and we don’t want to make any mistakes psychologically by jumping to conclusions. We need to acknowledge cyberbullies without becoming cyberbullies, ourselves, to them. Reporting any persistent abusive acts or unlawful behaviors is the most effective approach. Like the real world, we ought to support our neighbors online. We can achieve this by sharing aspirations and knowledge gently, while still taking control of unnecessary negativity to maintain order.
The next element, digital access, focuses on the accessibility of the Internet or online use. Because of the prevalence of digital technology and online use, digital access through all forms of digital technology, including: tablets, smartphones, texting, email, and all forms of digital media communication, is essential. Ideally, digital citizens should continue to gain digital access to more sites and become further involved in a digital society that can benefit them and others. However, issues with such access inevitably occur when online connections are slow or break down, or when sites are inaccessible and blocked. Persistent coping and managing of these problems is necessary. Taking initiative for accessible digital communications is important, and it is imperative to resolve any issues that arise.
The final element under the ‘respect yourself and others’ category is digital law, which is the ability to consider the code of ethical and unethical conduct online with accountability and awareness of copyright laws and illegal works such as plagiarizing, non-fair use, using anything without permission and cited sources, and downloading illegally (Hirtle, Hudson & Kenyon, 2009). We have the luxury of being able to effortlessly access resources online. Digital citizens should have better knowledge of copyright ownership and fair-use rules while using resources and multimedia online. Copyrighted works can be in various media formats such as texts, photographs, films, and illustrations. “Fair-use” means that we can share limited information written by others by transforming their ideas into a new form, while properly attributing their information (Hirtle et. al., 2009). Considering that the four factors in fair-use are purpose, nature, amount, and potential market impact, we need to balance the weight and give clarification purposes of use and evaluate them to avoid legal risks such as copyright infringement and plagiarism (Hirtle et. al., 2009).
Educating Yourself and Connecting with Others
The next three elements are regarding educating yourself and connecting with others. The element digital literacy, is one of great importance and is a necessary skill for almost every day. If a platform or system online changes its’ format or new technology comes out, we will be able to learn how to use them independently instead of waiting for available help from others or help services. For instance, when a Windows operation system is updated to a new version, the process for making copies of videos may look different. The ability to adapt and navigate newer technology by accessing resources such as remote assistance, video assistance demo, or use digital help tool is a digital literacy skill.
Another element in this category, digital communication, is the ability to exchange, share, or access information online. Literacy access to information is crucial. For example, searching for or requesting an available transcript if an online video’s captions are incorrect or missing. Digital commerce, the third element, is the buying and/or selling of goods and services. Being sensible and cautious in digital activities of buying and selling is crucial to success because of the involvement of money. Examining any available reviews and ratings online for sellers, products and services is worthwhile. If no reviews exist, we can make requests for it (Ribble, et. al., 2004). Making a mistake, misunderstanding or miscommunication can cause a loss of goods, services, or money.
Protecting Yourself and Others
The last three elements grouped together are related to protecting yourself and others. The digital rights and responsibilities are to promote equal use of the Internet, such as preserving privacy, ethics of free of expression, and morally acceptable behavior. For instance, if users abuse the privilege of social media, or other online platforms such as Facebook or YouTube, they can be debarred from using them. Another element is digital security, which applies to the use of technology or tools to secure and protect identity and properties online. Making online pages private is an option. Creating complex passwords or encryptions can make it harder for hackers to invade pages. One tip for online shopping or banking is to make sure the site’s displayed ‘lock’ icon is locked (Mannan & Oorschot, 2008, July). Escape immediately from any sites that give feelings of skepticism or suspicions to protect against potential hackers.
The last element, digital health and wellness, is the physicallly, mentally and emotionally healthy use of digital technologies or devices. Learning tips about ergonomic practices, eye safety, time-out tactics and digital-free moments can aid your health. Sitting too close to a screen, sitting too long, constant typing, and commenting inapposite comments can harm you physically and mentally. Furthermore, overuse of technology can damage your eyes.
Educating others of the importance in understanding that digital citizenship qualities include the support and care of users is key. I will communicate with my colleagues and college students to encourage them to evaluate their knowledge in order to help themselves learn to navigate in today’s digital world and collaborate safely and responsibly. By understanding the roles and responsibilities in the digital age, they will enhance their individual learning, and successfully become respectful digital citizens.
I created my video presentation regarding which elements of digital citizenship are important in my professional setting and learning. I used a video editing software called Adobe Premiere Pro to create a video presentation so that my ASL can be viewed with an embedded video of a voice-over. This method also allowed me to utilize extra space on the screen for visual aids such as texts and images.
In my opinion, all nine elements are important for every digital citizen to acknowledge. After learning about all the elements, I believe the elements that are most relevant to me are digital literacy, digital access, and digital health and wellness. Since my professional development is continuous, developing my digital literacy is crucial. For example, I am gaining knowledge on how to better use the online platforms, Canvas and Kaltura. Digital access is important to my constructivist learning. Online use helps me to collect resources to develop my knowledge and understanding. Since I have a tendency to be hooked on screens or web surfing, I need to work on my health and wellness by managing my time effectively and remembering to take frequent breaks from devices and give my eyes, body, and mind a rest. We can maintain a balance by using technology to enrich our healthy digital life. Nourish your digital life and be healthy by allowing the use of technology to improve the quality of your life.
Carle, J. R. (2011). Digital Community, Digital Citizen. Journal of Open Flexible and Distance Learning, 15(1), 91-92.
Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2014). Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyberbullying. Corwin Press.
Hirtle, P. B., Hudson, E., & Kenyon, A. T. (2009). Copyright and cultural institutions: guidelines for digitization for US libraries, archives, and museums.
Mannan, M., & van Oorschot, P. C. (2008, July). Security and usability: the gap in real-world online banking. In Proceedings of the 2007 Workshop on New Security Paradigms (pp. 1-14). ACM.
Ohler, J. (2011). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47(sup1), 25-27.
Ribble, M. (2011). Digital citizenship in schools. International Society for Technology in Education.
Ribble, M. S., Bailey, G. D., & Ross, T. W. (2004). Digital citizenship: Addressing appropriate technology behavior. Learning & Leading with technology, 32(1), 6.