The Importance of Digital Citizenship
According to the latest survey conducted by Dtareporetr in January 2021, there are 2.88m internet users in Qatar, i.e. 99% of its population, including 2.4m above 18, i.e. around 84.2%, which is an increase by 29k users (more than 1%) from the 2020 survey.
These figures show that we live in a world where the use of digital technology has become the rule and the norm, and people all over the world are now more dependent on the internet in their daily activities, through the dozens of services our small screen provides in just one click or through social networking which is now more readily available. This definitely requires us to be more able to be actively engaged with our online community and it’s not only a technical ability. As in our physical community, there are some behaviors we need to develop. In fact, the digital world and the physical world are more similar than some might think. The citizen is the same in both and online he’s even called “the digital citizen”.
So who is the digital citizen?
A digital citizen is a person who develops skills, knowledge, and information technology to use the internet and digital technologies in an efficient, regular, and correct manner, in order to be engaged in the community, while ensuring good and ethical online behavior and safe internet use.
How important the digital citizenship is?
With 4.66 billion active internet users around the world- and the number is on the rise- and amidst this networking with the digital world, adequate internet access is crucial, and its use is now a must beyond its entertainment purposes. Those users make up this digital community that provides promising opportunities in different areas, including entertainment, education, employment, services, and social networks. Therefore, any divergence from this course would mean a complete unfamiliarity with the future and its tools and knowledge, and one would run the risk of not catching up with the advanced technology that is now a basic need in our life.
By properly using the internet, we can contribute to the creation of a safe and interconnected world community, no matter where we are, or who we are or what social attitudes we embrace, because the most important question is: how can our good online behavior impact the others? In fact, we must be good citizens not only in society but also online.
Principles of Digital Citizenship
Make the best use of technology
Probably not all of us have equal opportunities when it comes to technology, either due to financial or socioeconomic reasons or because of poor knowledge in the connection process itself. But what if you were lucky to have greater access to technology? In this case, you need to make optimal use of it and help others to stay up to date with digital advancement in order to establish and promote digital proficiency among as many people as possible in society.
Keep your personal information private
Beware of who you allow to access your information and in what ways. This is one of the digital citizen skills and a basic principle of how to use the internet safely. Keep your personal information for yourself and don’t share them with others, particularly your private credentials, geographic location, and bank accounts. By sharing your information, you’re not only putting yourself at risk, but also your family, friends, and close people.
Always behave well
Ethics should be always observed whether in real life or in the virtual world. So having good manners all the time will reflect your reality and make you a decent digital citizen. Some might think that communicating from behind a screen allows them to compromise some of their ideals. No wonder cyberbullying, verbal harassment, ridiculing, data theft, or stalking are widespread nowadays, which must be totally avoided by digital citizens.
Leave a positive digital footprint
The use of the internet and the extensive online participation can have positive and negative effects, so it is important to leave good traces and to interact online in a useful and fruitful way, whether with others in giving an opinion on a specific issue, or commenting on a post, or participating in a discussion, or even in your online initiatives like introducing a new idea or giving a digital presentation. This would reflect your behaviors and actions even in the reality.
A Kaplan’s survey found that 35% of the college admissions officers said that they had visited the applicants’ social media pages to discover more about them. So, the impressions you convey are based on your digital participation and online interaction and might impact an important decision in your life like being admitted to a college.
Beware the dangers of strangers
One significant feature of digital citizens is that they support others and help them build proper and sage digital knowledge shut the door on cyberbullying and verbal harassment against the ones you know and those you don’t know, fight false information, stand up against any disrespect or harm and report fake accounts and news.
Spread digital literacy
If you’re a professional internet user and an active member of the online community, you ought to promote digital literacy, spread the connectivity culture, and introduce digital citizenship among as many people as possible in the community. This would largely contribute to getting familiar and keeping in touch with future technology and this is one of the important characteristics that a digital citizen should have so he could help other digital citizens in the virtual world to be good.