Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Golden Rules of Digital Citizenship

The book LOL ... OMG is aimed at university students and with a daughter just about to set off for university next month I'm interested to read the advice Matt Ivester gives to students.  The suggestions he gives are good.  He reminds students that the impression they give online is a result of how they choose to behave and interact with others - and it is about the values, ethics and principles that underlie these interactions.  Social media is so new that social norms are still evolving.  It's today's users who are deciding on these norms, so we all have the power to control and influence what is regarded as responsible digital citizenship.  Here are Matt's "golden rules":

  1. Treat others the way you would want to be treated
  2. Treat others the way they would want to be treated
  3. Check to see if what you are doing is legal
  4. Consider the consequences if everybody behaved the same way as you
  5. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable doing this in the real world
  6. Ask yourself if you would change your behaviour if it was associated with your name
  7. Make sure you are not posting something while you are feeling emotional
  8. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable with the whole world knowing what you are doing
  9. Ask yourself if what you are doing could be misinterpreted
  10. Consider how what you are doing reflects on you as a person and if you like what it says about you
I find rule number 6 interesting as it assumes many students are posting things anonymously.  Ever since I've been an IT teacher I've always been concerned about protecting the privacy of my students and not allowing them to be identified, but I'm wondering if this is perhaps giving them the wrong message, perhaps encouraging them to hide behind an anonymous name or avatar.  Is this concern now outdated?  In fact the internet is probably very safe.  Millions of people book holidays and buy things online using their credit cards, and in the case of sexual predators, children are far more likely to be targeted by people they know such as family members.  Nowadays when most schools offer lessons about staying safe online and how to use the internet responsibly perhaps it's time to rethink the "no real names" policies that many schools have adopted. Perhaps it's time to teach our students how to build positive digital identities, so that when someone Googles their name all the great things they have done are the first things that show up, not simply the silly photos they have been tagged in.

Photo Credit:  Think before you  by ToGa Wanderings, 2012 Attribution


  1. Hey Maggie:
    Thanks for posting these rules - It sometimes amazes me when we allow our students to think that online or cyber behavior is any different than personal behavior. Perhaps if we focus on that, the concern about the "no real names" policies can go away and student can be proud of who they are.

  2. Number 7 hits home too - I've seen this quite a few times (and been guilty of it myself once or twice too!). Good luck on Monday :-)