The world as we know it has changed dramatically since the inception of the internet. Through it, many physical barriers and limitations have been broken. No longer do we have to be limited by analog signals that are expensive- now we can talk to friends halfway around the world, with video at that. The network of businesses and services that the internet created has also proven highly convenient, allowing seamless access both to virtual products and service to brick-and-mortar ones.
Through all of these improvements, society has relied more and more on the internet, spawning a subculture of its own. However, navigating the internet can be difficult, even for those born within the online generation. And this is where Digital Citizenship comes into play. But what really is it and why is it important?
What Is It and Why It’s Important
The way we interact with people in person requires etiquette. We know to respect people we socialize with, and we understand that anything negative that we do will have repercussions. And with how the digital age has made gadgets and the internet a commodity for us, we are realizing that this social etiquette should also be applied online. We need to teach children what good and responsible tech use is, and we need them to understand the dangers they should avoid as well.
Kids these days should be made aware of things like cyberbullying, fraud, catfishing, and other dangerous acts so they can avoid them. That’s what Digital Citizenship is all about- teaching everyone how to navigate and interact with the internet with a sense of responsibility and safety.
The Key Components to Digital Citizenship
Promotes Online Safety
While the internet is a place where many good things can happen, this shouldn’t deter us from employing safety measures to protect ourselves even more. For younger folks, the internet might seem like a place where they can interact with their friends and get their fill of entertainment, but its large user base also lends itself to requiring you to be aware to protect yourself. Digital citizenship introduces the concept of online safety to everyone, educating a wider audience of the most common scams and baits that fill the internet. With how the economy and market is now reliant on the internet, being aware of how to protect yourself.
Imparts Responsible Communication
The internet is a place where people can communicate. However, there are instances of miscommunication happening online that eventually leads to a physical altercation in real life, even ending up with the parties involved needing a personal injury attorney. Such matters can be prevented through responsible communication, one that is both empathetic and mindful of the other party. Digital citizenship teaches empathy as a part of communication. After all, the internet is a platform of instant communication but without the personalization that face-to-face interaction can bring.
Teaches Privacy Protection
Security and privacy are two things we always want for ourselves. After all, we don’t want others invading our privacy, and the best way to prevent this is to implement security measures on all or most aspects that we can. This includes our mobile gadgets like tablets or smartphones, and our online activities as well. What digital citizenship aims to teach is for kids to be aware of the risks when it comes to passcodes, phishing, AI facial recognition, and data breach.
Teaching kids to never give out their passwords, be wary of posting pictures similar to how they unlock their phones via facial recognition, and use VPNs when going online are some of the ways we can help them protect themselves in the digital realm.
Increase Media Literacy
There is a plethora of information readily accessible on the internet. A quick google search can give anyone ample amounts of articles and reading materials, videos and recordings, and other forms of data on essentially anything. And as we know, this information isn’t always going to be accurate nor truthful. Because of this, a lot of people often fall for satirical sites. It doesn’t matter if the website’s purpose is purely for fun’s sake or if there is malicious intent to fool people; we as consumers have to be diligent in discerning what’s real information from fake ones.
The internet is not showing any signs of stopping its continuous growth and expansion. More and more services and establishments are migrating their offerings to the internet. Now more than ever, everyone needs to be aware of how we should be good citizens- not just in the real world but also in the virtual one.