8 Elements to Help You Become a Great Digital Citizen

"Digital Citizenship" is the umbrella term used to describe the expectations of a digital citizen. If you use the Internet on a regular basis, you are a digital citizen! Just like being a citizen in the physical world, a lot of the same rules apply when you are a citizen of the digital world.

Here are eight elements that embody what it takes to be a good digital citizen:

Digital commerce:

Citizens should recognize that a large share of the economy is now based online. As a result, there are both pros and cons to e-commerce, and a good digital citizen should not only be aware of the benefits of online shopping, but the risks as well.

  • Educate yourself about the different types of payments that can be processed online, and which are the safest.
  • Learn about how to determine a secure connection between a personal device and company website by understanding what SSL certificates are and how to recognize them.

Digital communication:

E-mail, instant messaging, direct messages, text messages, and chats are all forms of electronic communication. With all these different forms of communication gaining popularity, it is important to remember the risks that come with this convenience.

  • Learn about what data is appropriate and what isn’t to share through specific digital channels. With the click of a button, sensitive information can be accidentally shared.
  • Consider the medium you’re using to communicate through- if it is something public, like a social media page or a public blog, be sure to be mindful of what personal information you are publishing.

Digital literacy:

Learn about the functionality of your devices. Being informed is a large part of being responsible. If you fully learn how to use all of the functions and features of your devices and software, you can learn how to better protect yourself on the threat landscape.

  • Familiarize yourself with the privacy settings on social media accounts or any other public accounts you may own. That way you can control exactly what people can find out about you online.
  • Be aware of your digital footprint. Learn how to search for yourself and your children online to see what kind of information is readily available to anyone that knows your name.

Digital etiquette:

Relating to digital communication, various mediums require a certain kind of etiquette. Certain platforms need more appropriate behavior and language than others. For example, would you post the same things on your LinkedIn account as you would on your Facebook account?

  • Cater your voice to the platform you’re using. Be sure to remember what personal information you’re posting and certainly do not post information about others without their permission.
  • Don’t be a jerk. Seriously. If more people learned about etiquette online- or “net-iquette” - there would probably be fewer cyber bullies out there.

Digital law:

The Internet may seem like one big free-for-all, simply because it doesn’t have the appearance of being monitored or governed by a specific entity. While that may be true now, it is important to not forget that the law still applies when you are online.

  • Activities that break the law or are unethical include causing damage to other people’s identity, stealing digital property, hacking into others information, downloading illegal media, plagiarizing, creating malware, or sending spam with malicious purposes.

Digital rights and responsibilities:

Similar to digital law, digital citizens have the right to privacy and free speech. The Internet is a powerful tool, and with that power comes great responsibility. Online privacy is a big deal right now, as you may see with the big data breaches hitting mainstream media. Companies have a huge responsibility to safeguard your data, and should be held responsible when their safeguards fail.  We’re all in this together, and by working together in controlling how our private information is collected and stored, we can go a long way.

Digital health:

Using our devices constantly can have a physical impact on our bodies. Continued use of computers and devices can cause injuries such as back problems, carpal tunnel, vision problems and more.

  • Don’t slouch!
  • Take frequent breaks to reduce eyestrain.
  • Don’t look down at your device too long.
  • Make sure your workstation at your office is ergonomically correct.
  • Step away from your devices in your free time and go get some fresh air and sunbeams on your face instead of LED lights.

Digital security:

Just like in the physical world, there are people who choose not to be a good digital citizen. Scammers, cybercriminals, hackers and the like are all out there, waiting to get their hands on your personal information. This is probably the most important element of digital citizenship- safety first. As responsible citizens, it lies in your hands to protect our information from cybercriminals.

  • First and foremost, install a comprehensive Internet security solution on your device such as Norton Security. These programs can help protect citizens from hidden threats such as unsafe websites, malicious files, phishing scams, social media scams and more.
  • Use strong, difficult to guess passwords. Make sure they do not contain any words found in the dictionary or anything involving your personal information. Additionally, don’t reuse the same password across different websites.
  • Update your software as soon as updates are released. These will help patch newly discovered security holes in software, or vulnerabilities.
  • Back up your data. In the event that catastrophe strikes and you accidentally spill coffee on your laptop, or ransomware takes hold of your hard drive, if you perform backups on a regular basis, your data will be safe. Which is the hardest, if not most impossible thing to retrieve.

Why is Digital Citizenship Important?

We’re all in this together. With the constantly evolving threat landscape, new threats pop up on a daily basis. It’s important that the good guys (us) band together and expand your knowledge about the Internet and your devices. Share what you know with others, become an advocate of Internet safety. The more people that become hip to the tactics that cybercriminals use online, the harder it will be for them to win.

Here are some more weekly topics for National Cyber Security Awareness Month that you may have missed:

Week one- Five Years of STOP. THINK. CONNECT. – Best Practices for All Digital Citizens:

Week two- Creating a Culture of Cyber Security at Work:

Week three- Connected Communities and Families: Staying Protected While We Are Always Connected

Week four- Your Evolving Digital Life

Week five- Building the Next Generation of Cyber Professionals