The Value of Good Digital Citizenship in the Online World

digital citizenship

Technology and the online world are shaping the lives of our teens – in how they work, learn and play. However, where we have the expectations of citizenship in the real world (and the corresponding social constructs that bind us to reasonable behaviour), there does not yet exist such a prominent concept of digital citizenship.

The vast and accessible nature of the online world has the potential to be exciting and empowering, with a plethora of information and education opportunities at our fingertips. But, as a digital coping strategies New Zealand charity, we’ve seen firsthand how this has come at a cost – with the wide-reaching impact of digital addiction and digital anxiety.

Much of the focus on the impact of technology on young people has been around digital safety, online safety and cyber-bullying. However, an emerging concept in responsible technology use is one of ‘digital citizenship’.

So, what is digital citizenship?

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) defines digital citizens as ‘learners who use their technology-driven powers conscientiously — and with empathy — to help make the world a better place.’

Digital citizenship isn’t about shunning technology or limiting its use. As explained by Netsafe, it focuses on responsible digital literacy – with people being empowered to participate fully in a digital-enabled society while retaining the ability to critically analyse what is being experienced online.

How can you be a good digital citizen?

Being a responsible online citizen isn’t very different from being a good offline citizen. Consider:

  • How you interact with others – always treat others like you would like to be treated, even if you’re protected by an anonymous username.
  • Your privacy and reputation – protect your personal information and digital footprint. If you wouldn’t want a future employer to see it, then rethink posting it.
  • Can you trust what you’re reading? – don’t be afraid to question what you’re reading and check the source.
  • How you can protect yourself – be wary of who you befriend online and what information you share with them.
  • Talking to a trusted adult – if you’re ever uncomfortable with what you see online or if you feel you’re being bullied then talk to a parent or trusted adult.

As a New Zealand charitable trust with the goal of bringing positive change to how young people engage with the digital world, I’m Enough is passionate about the benefit of responsible digital citizenship.

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Anxiety phone line – 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY)

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Depression and anxiety affects us all differently.
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We all face challenges to our mental health at various times in our lives. The way we’re feeling can change how we think and how we deal with tough times.

There’s a range of resources and services available to help including phone and online services and information, as well as face-to-face support.

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Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to talk to a trained counsellor.

To talk to a trained counsellor 24/7 call the Depression helpline – 0800 111 757.

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Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat.

What's Up  – 0800 942 8787, (for 5–18-year-olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, 1 pm–10 pm and on weekends, 3 pm–10 pm. Online chat is available from 7 pm–10 pm daily.

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