Our society operates on two levels: the physical world and the digital world. We learn how to be global citizens by participating in school or in the towns and cities where we live, and these experiences teach us how to behave. However, we rarely get an education on digital citizenship, how to behave in the online world. Many people learn about digital culture by experimenting online on forums or social media sites, but this can come with dangers. We can educate ourselves on becoming better digital citizens by focusing on a few key themes.
1. Internet Safety: Staying safe online is the user's responsibility. Recognizing inappropriate behavior while also gauging the culture of each website is vital. It's important to know a website's conduct policies and report anything that may present a violation. You should also learn to recognize when someone is being too intrusive with their questions. By doing this, you can protect your valuable personal information, which they could use against you.
- What to Report: Read this guide to know which actions and website characteristics to report online or to authorities.
- How to Recognize Grooming: Online interaction with anyone can lead to grooming, the practice of manipulating someone online to take advantage of them.
2. Digital Footprints and Reputation: When users post videos, pictures, and text online, these posts can stay there indefinitely. A good digital citizen knows to respect others' information and content while being aware of their own digital footprints. It's important to protect the privacy of others by making sure you're not using their content in ways that could harm or otherwise upset them.
3. Privacy and Security: The personal data you post online is vulnerable to hackers and malware like computer viruses. You should learn to recognize the type of language used in email scams asking for personal information. Many websites also target users by offering something for their information or by getting them to click on fake links that can install harmful software. You can take steps to prevent these digital traps by creating strong passwords and only visiting websites that you trust.
- What You Need to Know About Phishing: It's very difficult to block every potentially dangerous message, so it's important to be able to recognize phishing when you see it.
- Youth Internet Safety: Read about the risks, responses, and research recommendations for youth on the Web in this study.
4. Self-Image and Identity: Social media websites and product or community forums often let users customize their own avatars and online names. By allowing users to create and manage their own online identities, these websites offer creative ways of digital self-expression. You should learn to treat your online identity as you would your physical identity and maintain a good reputation.
5. Relationships and Communication: Online identities can also have disadvantages. When users can replace their name and pictures with whatever they want, they can say and do anything anonymously. This lack of accountability can lead to nasty behavior. Know how to behave within each digital community, and always act respectfully so you can fully enjoy your online experience.
6. Information Literacy: Recognizing the type of language used in websites and advertising can alert you to negative intentions and misinformation. Unfortunately, there is no simple way of instantly knowing if you're on a dangerous website. However, there are online resources to help you identify both safe and harmful information sources.
7. Cyberbullying and Digital Drama: While anonymity can contribute to harassment online, cyberbullying is most prevalent on social media websites, where at least one participant is not anonymous. Users should understand that their words and actions online can have real-life consequences. Likewise, if someone is the target of a cyberbully, they should know what steps they can take to stop them. This can include contacting the website directly or alerting the authorities.
8. Creative Credit and Copyright: With so much content posted online, it's easy to save or copy someone else's work, but just because it's on the Internet doesn't make it yours. While some of this work may be in the public domain, much of it is copyrighted. It's important to recognize if you can use online content or whether you need permission to do so. The consequences of taking copyrighted content can be serious.
General Online Safety