Being a good citizen comes with both privileges and responsibilities. This is true of digital citizenship as well- utilizing information technology is a privilege that needs to be treated with respect in a careful and responsible manner.
Rights and Responsibilities
The digital world is similar to the ‘real world’ in that there is a basic set of rights for every digital citizen. Digital citizens have the right to such things as privacy and free speech. To ensure understanding and acceptance, it is vital that our basic digital rights are addressed, discussed, and understood while we participate in the digital world. These rights also come with responsibilities.
A balance exists between personal accountability and what is reasonable. Everyone has a personal accountability for how they use technology in their digital citizenship relationships, activities and personal goals. Everyone also has a right to use modern technology in a way that matches their best interests in a reasonable manner.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines accountability as a situation in which someone is responsible for things that happen and can give a satisfactory reason for them. The meaning of the word reasonable is that which is based on or using good judgment, and therefore fair and practical.
Five key responsibilities:
- You are the voice. You create the content. You are responsible for how you interact with other digital users.
- Personal safety should always remain foremost in your mind.
- As a model digital citizen, you are responsible for learning internet language and terms, and the times and places when it should be applied.
- You must respond to digital offenders in a manner that can end the offences, by reporting the offender to the website management or, if necessary, to the proper legal authorities.
- You must learn the laws that govern internet activities.
Real and Digital World Similarities
Consider the similarities and differences in the following real world and cyber world situations:
Both deal with one person attacking another psychologically. People can deal with both through intervention. Both can continue after school or work hours. But with cyberbullying, technology can make perpetrators feel anonymous, and it can involve a larger number of people.
Drinking and driving can be the result of alcohol addiction; it causes a loss of attention; it can lead to accidents and there are laws against it. Texting and driving is the same: It can happen due to a technology addiction, it causes a loss of attention, it can lead to accidents, and laws making it illegal are being passed in many jurisdictions.
Stealing a DVD vs. downloading a movie: Shoplifting is illegal. It causes a loss of revenue for the store, and children are typically taught that stealing is not appropriate. There are laws against illegal downloading as well, and it can also decrease revenue for companies. However, children are not always taught that this is wrong.
It is time to get back to basics! We need to behave the same way in the digital world as we would in the ‘real world’.