Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Tyshon from BALTIMORE. Tyshon Wonders, “What is digital citizenship?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Tyshon!
For the younger generations living in today's modern world, it's impossible to imagine a life without the Internet. Yet just a few decades ago there was no Google with the answer to everything at your fingertips. There was no media. If you wanted to call your friends, you had to pick up a home phone — with a cord — and hope they were home.
For older generations who remember those times, it's amazing to see how things have changed. Along with the immeasurable benefits of the digital world, though, came new dangers and problems that had never existed before in the analog world.
The omnipresence of the Internet in our lives has led many people to focus on a new concept: digital citizenship. At its most basic, digital citizenship is concerned with the appropriate, responsible use of technology. It includes ideas such as digital literacy, Internet etiquette, online security, and ethics.
Although digital citizenship proponents often focus on teaching children how to stay safe and secure online, there's more to it than that. In addition to teaching children what not to do online, digital citizenship advocates seek to show children how to use technology for good to contribute to and serve in their communities.
Today, the concept of digital citizenship has broadened to encompass nine different elements: digital access, commerce, communication, literacy, etiquette, law, rights and responsibilities, health and wellness, and security. Let's take a brief look at what each of these elements entails.
With regard to digital access, good digital citizens should seek to provide and expand digital access to everyone. Equal digital rights are essential for technology-driven societies to grow and flourish.
Along with access, however, comes responsibility. Technology users must be taught appropriate ways to purchase and consume electronic goods and services. They must also be counseled in how to communicate responsibly online. Many people are simply not prepared for a digital world in which you can talk to anyone anywhere at any time and buy or exchange goods and services without any personal contact.
As technologies evolve, we must focus on teaching children the skills they will need to succeed in a digital world. This can include teaching them how to use specific technologies. More importantly, technology education must involve a focus on information literacy, which includes how to search for and process information in a world characterized by information overload.
One of the most important focuses of digital citizenship is digital etiquette, sometimes known as netiquette. While children are often taught in school how to behave in person, they also need to be taught how to behave appropriately online, where they're often tempted to behave inappropriately because of the level of anonymity that the digital world often provides.
Part of learning how to behave online is to be aware of digital laws that apply specifically to online conduct. These laws can cover a broad variety of behavior, from hacking and illegally downloading music and movies to plagiarizing online content and identity theft.
The flip side of learning about digital laws is becoming aware of your own personal digital rights and responsibilities. Just like the rights you have as a citizen of a particular country, you also have similar digital rights, such as free speech and privacy. Children must learn how to protect those rights while also not infringing the rights of others.
Children must also be taught how to protect their physical health and psychological well-being in our new digital world. Online bullying and Internet addiction are real dangers. Likewise, physical harm can come in the form of eye strain and repetitive stress syndrome from too much time spent with electronic devices.
Finally, just like we have fire detectors in our homes and locks on our doors, we must learn to take similar necessary precautions in the digital world. Children must learn how to back up valuable information. They must also learn to protect themselves against identity theft and harmful computer viruses.
As the world becomes an increasingly digital place where technology infiltrates every aspect of our lives, we must prepare people adequately for the digital world they live in. In today's brave new world, being a good citizen means learning how to behave appropriately and responsibly both offline and online.