Being a Good Digital Citizen


“A Digital Citizen is someone who understands the rights and responsibilities that come with being online and someone who uses technology in a positive way. We need to intentionally teach and prepare students/technology users for a world in which so much of our communication and consumption of information is done through social media and online resources. Too often we are seeing students as well as adults misusing and abusing technology but not sure what to do. The issue is more than what the users do not know but what is considered appropriate technology usage. Being a good digital citizen means to demonstrate and practice safe, responsible and legal use of technology.

Six guidelines for practicing digital citizenship:

Respect for self: Having respect for yourself is about being aware of how you portray yourself with your online persona. In doing so, you will set a positive example for others to follow.

Responsibility for self: We must be mindful to avoid behavior that puts us at risk, both online and offline. Acting responsibly encourages exemplary personal governance as a habit of mind and adds to our sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

Respect for others: Respecting others teaches us the value of being constructive and friendly online. It’s about modeling behavior that focuses on civility and constructive thinking in the face of conflict.

Responsibility for others: Don’t be afraid to report abusive and inappropriate behavior towards others, for example cyberbullying. This is how we come to see the value in making others feel protected and valued themselves.

Respect for property: Asking permission to share another’s intellectual properties is an important practice. Those who devote their time to creativity in the service of others deserve no less. Learn the rules of “fair use” and copyright laws, and how they apply to sourcing and using online information.

Responsibility for property: Treating our property and others’ with care and respect, including intellectual properties, is vital to preserving our digital and global communities. Remember that any kind of digital piracy is still theft and is not a victimless crime. Make a choice to act with integrity and to value what we use or own and give the author credit for the work you use. 

Some things you may not think about are:

  • If you visit a website, the website usually looks at what websites you were on before and after you looked at theirs.
  • Anything that you search on Google can be looked up, including negative topics, such as pornography or suicidal ideations. 
  • If you want a job in the future, but you have a negative digital presence, there’s a good chance you’re not getting the job.
  • Every computer has an internal number, so if you write something negative online, it is recorded.

Every time you hit a ‘like’ or post update or add your opinion to Facebook, share a photo on Instagram, Snapchat, you add to your digital footprint.

When you walk on a beach and leave a footprint, and the wave rushes over – it is kind of Hollywood to see the footprint go away. However, your digital footprint is not easily washed away, and a more accurate description of the digital footprint is a Digital Tattoo because it is not easily removed.

The goal of this article is not to deter the use of online learning. It is to encourage the use, but also encourage mindfulness of what is posted, because what you put online may never go away.