Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship

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Digital citizenship is a concept applicable to society at large, yet designed as a vehicle to teach children appropriate use of digital communication tools such as the Internet and cell phones. Since children as well as adults often misuse such tools, the nine elements of digital citizenship are presented as guidelines intended to further responsible and appropriate use of technology.

1 Digital Access

Digital access refers to our need for full electronic participation in society. All people and organizations should have equal access to digital technology, as a matter of principle. No matter where they're located or who they are, all people should have the chance to become more productive citizens through digital technology access.

2 Digital Commerce

While the Internet facilitates an efficient, international exchange of goods and services, making Internet purchases commonplace, it also facilitates the exchange of illegal goods. Both legal and illegal exchanges have become commonplace and widely accepted; however, everyone must be educated as to what is and isn't considered an acceptable exchange in the digital economy.

3 Digital Communication

The explosion of digital communication, through email, social networking sites, instant messaging and cellular phones, has made it possible for anyone to be in touch with anyone at any time. While this new-found ease of communication facilitates efficiency and interconnectedness, it serves all of us well to learn how to manage this ability to communicate, not allowing it to intrude on other priorities. Moreover, those using digital communication services need guidance on how to make appropriate decisions when faced with so many communication outlets.

4 Digital Literacy

Technology is playing an increasing role in the workplace and professionals are making use of videoconferencing services, as well as online data sharing spaces, to facilitate efficiency and information exchange. Therefore, it is critical that our society builds up digital literacy: as new technologies emerge, we must learn how to use them.

5 Digital Etiquette

The term digital etiquette refers to electronic standards of conduct. Often, technology users hold themselves to different standards when interacting via the Internet, rather than face to face. In addition, users often find it difficult to correct each other when they encounter poor digital etiquette. We must educate one another about appropriate digital conduct and enforce rules against inappropriate behavior.

6 Digital Law

Digital law comprises the legal ramifications of digital behavior our society has deemed unethical. For example, stealing or causing damage to others' work online is a crime, as is downloading music illegally, creating viruses and hacking into others' information. All users of digital technology must be aware of the laws governing their behavior.

7 Digital Rights and Responsibilities

All users of digital technology have certain rights, such as their right to free speech. Everyone using digital technology must be aware of his or her rights. Users must always be aware of the ramifications of their actions, however. Individuals must also act responsibly when using digital technology.

8 Digital Health and Wellness

Technology comes with certain inherent risks, including Internet addiction and unproductive use of time. Excessive use of technology has its own accompanying ergonomic concerns and can result in repetitive stress injury and eye problems. All digital citizens must be educated as to how to use digital technology safely and productively.

9 Digital Security

Anyone using digital technology must protect him or herself from potential harm. Just as we lock our doors and install security systems in our homes, we must protect our digital hardware. Protection comes in the form of firewalls, anti-virus software, data backups and surge control. These safeguards protect against ill intentions, as well as accidental data loss.

Tricia Lobo has been writing since 2006. Her biomedical engineering research, "Biocompatible and pH sensitive PLGA encapsulated MnO nanocrystals for molecular and cellular MRI," was accepted in 2010 for publication in the journal "Nanoletters." Lobo earned her Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering, with distinction, from Yale in 2010.