The 9 Essential Elements of Digital Citizenship

There are several definitions of Digital Citizenship. Mossberger, Tolbert, & McNeal (2007) defined digital citizens as “those who use the internet regularly and effectively.” The citizens spontaneously participate in communities online (Mossberger, et al., 2007).

Ribble & Bailey (2008) described digital citizenship as “the norms or appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use.”  in worldwide, digital society

Simsek & Simsek (2013) explained further that digital citizenship is associated with individuals’ technological capabilities and responsibilities with online activities such as online participation, internet observations, and online socialization with knowledge of behavioral norms in society or groups.

After learning the definitions, I created my own definition for a digital citizen: a person with the ability or aspiration to participate in online activities, courses or communities for their values, beliefs, attitudes and/or behaviors. A good digital citizen is one with respect and humanity using online technology.

Dr. Mike Ribble (2015) constituted applied aspects of digital citizenship. Therefore, digital citizens in the digital society will be able to learn about the citizenship and adhere to the morals and rules. Ribble’s (2015) nine areas of digital citizenship are divided into three categories of focus principles: Respect, Educate and Protect (REPs) with my brief explanation on each element as follows:

Respect – Respect Yourself and Others

  • Digital etiquette – respect and humility while using online technology for communicating or performing.


  • Digital access – the online accessibility to a wide variety of content and features online using devices such as tools, learning, or other activities.


  • Digital law – the ability to consider ethical and unethical conducts online; accountability with awareness of laws governing online, such as using copyrighted works, plagiarizing, using anything without requesting permission or cite sources, downloading illegally, etc.


Educate – Educate Yourself and Connect with Others


  • Digital literacy – the ability to use devices, internet and/or apps for any purposes.


  • Digital communication the ability to exchange or share information using online technology in digital forms of communication for opinions, needs, values, or, behaviors.


  • Digital commerce – the ability to buy and/or sell goods, and/or services judiciously online. Internet marketing is a major trend in technology marketing.


Protect – Protect Yourself and Others


  • Digital rights and responsibilities – the rights and for use of internet equally such preserving privacy, free speech, etc


  • Digital security – the ability to use technology or tools to secure and protect identity, and/or properties online


  • Digital health and wellness – the well-being of physical, mental and emotional using of digital technologies or devices.



Simsek, E., & Simsek, A. (2013). New literacies for digital citizenship. Contemporary Educational Technology4(2), 126-137.

Mossberger, K. (2009). Toward digital citizenship. Addressing inequality in the information age. Routledge handbook of Internet politics, 173-185.

Al-Zahrani, A. (2015). Toward digital citizenship: Examining factors affecting participation and involvement in the Internet society among higher education students. International Education Studies8(12), 203. Retrieved from

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know. International Society for Technology in Education.

Mossberger, K., Tolbert, C. J., & McNeal, R. S. (2007). Digital citizenship: The Internet, society, and participation. MIt Press.


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