What Does “Good Digital Citizenship” Look Like For Teens?

Just like in the real world, everyone in the online world belongs to a community. The problem is that, at first, we are all a part of the same community when it comes to being online. From there, we separate into gamers, Facebook groups, and other communities that meet our interests.

On the internet, it is important to be a “good digital citizen.” What exactly does this mean? A good digital citizen follows the rules of the internet and takes others feelings and post into consideration at all times. This means you act like the person you normally do when you’re offline.

Dos of Being a Good Digital Citizen:

  • Always report harmful behavior, whether it is harming you or someone you know. You can report it to that site’s authority, or if it is a friend, you can have your parents tell their parents. It is important to watch what is going on on the internet.
  • The old saying “treat others the way you want to be treated,” works online as well. As a teen and teenager it can be easy to get caught up in gossip and drama, but keep all of it offline.
  • It is important to make sure you are following each site’s safety guidelines. These are put into place for your safety and for the safety of others.
  • Internet safety is extremely important. Once you share something on the web, it is there for forever. People can use these images for a number of different items.
    • Always make an anonymous user name.
    • Don’t share too much personal information.
    • Think about something before it is posted. Who can view this and who will view this?

Read our blog post, “The Dark Side of Sharing Photos on The Internet,” for more information about why it is important to know about internet safety and sharing photos and images.

How Not To Be A Good Digital Citizen:

  • Say whatever you want to say online. A common problem on the internet is “internet trolls.” Internet trolls are the bullies of the internet. It is common to find internet trolls because of an idea called dissociative anonymity. This is where the person feels like they can say and do whatever they want on the internet because their identity is hidden. (At least they think it is hidden).
  • Post whatever you want with no thought to the permanence of the internet. This includes questionable photos and statuses. You and your friends might understand the joke or all be posting these photos, but you cannot take something back once it is out on the internet.
  • Share something someone else has made without recognizing them in your post. It is common on Twitter to find four to six posts on a timeline that are all the same, but different people are posting these statuses.

The internet world is full of internet trolls and bad digital citizens. This is why it is so important to always try to be a good digital citizen. You never know if something you post can harm someone else or even yourself without you realizing it at first. Parents and educators should speak with their teens and teenagers about being a good digital citizen. At Smart Girl Society, we help parents, educators, and teens navigate the internet and social media applications. If you have any concerns, contact us today!


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