Columns share an author’s personal perspective and are often based on facts in the newspaper’s reporting or from personal experience.
The definition of a good citizen is someone who shows an interest in their community, who has compassion and empathy and is always striving to make the community a better place. In a nutshell, good citizenship is the cornerstone of a society that works well together.
But now that we work in the digital age, is there such a thing as being a “good digital citizen?”
The answer is a resounding yes—and given that so many of us are part of the digital, virtual and/or online world these days, being a good digital citizen isn’t a mere luxury, it’s a necessity.
By way of definition, digital citizenship refers to the responsible use of technology by anyone who uses computers, the Internet and digital devices to engage with society on any level. This captures the vast majority of us, so we all need to be familiar with and adhere to the “guidelines” of being a good digital citizen.
First, let’s start with the opposite—what constitutes being a “bad” digital citizen? It starts with irresponsible use of media channels and platforms, something that is unfortunately rampant today as a way for certain groups to push specific agendas. This erodes the credibility of anything you read—how are people supposed to know what information is true and what isn’t?
Good digital citizenship is about doing the opposite—sharing accurate information from trustworthy outlets and treating people with a basic level of respect that everyone deserves.
So, what are the traits of a good digital citizen? It’s someone who treats people with the same respect they expect to receive. It’s someone who keeps private information private. It’s someone who recognizes that anything posted on the Internet can never truly be deleted and could potentially cause harm in the future. It’s someone who understands that anything and everything they post contributes to their “personal brand” and the way others perceive them.
The bottom line is that the traits of a good digital citizen really aren’t that different from those of a good citizen.
Digital citizenship, like everyday citizenship, will come naturally to many—it’s really all about knowing the proper way to act, and then following through. Still, sometimes we need to take a self-check and be mindful of the content we put “out there” and the way it’s presented. We need to remember that in the digital world, people are always watching.
Eric Brown, CISSP, PCIP, is a manager with blumshapiro. To learn more visit www.blumshapiro.com.