The digital space is a virtual community, but are you a good citizen of it?

Citizenship confers special status on those that are qualified. It separates them from aliens, allowing them to fully associate with the aspirations and objectives of the community in question. A citizen enjoys the full privileges and benefits of their environment if they operate within the existing system as a bonafide member by abiding by the relationship standards.

Some of the privileges you can enjoy as an effective citizen of a space include protection, security, rights and liberties that make it possible for you to fully express yourself. You will have the right to relate with other humans in the community and also fully utilise the opportunities of the space without putting yourself at risk.

Old and young people today are growing up surrounded by technology but are often not very skilled at making good use of it. Although some people are comfortable using technology, they may use it inappropriately and may be unaware of how to harness the power and potential of technology to pursue their passions and contribute to their community.

Based on this background, this write-up provides clues on how to build skills and the confidence to communicate with people respectively and responsibly in the digital space.


Elements of Digital Citizenship

A scholar of emerging media, Mike Ribble, in 2015 named three elements of a good digital citizen. He also provided nine sub-elements as key indicators of an effective player in the digital space. The elements are as below:

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Respect yourself and others by:

  1. Observing digital etiquette in conducting yourself with orderliness and appropriateness online while avoiding tardiness
  2. Observing digital laws against damaging, stealing, phishing, poking others in the digital space
  3. Observing digital access of equal chance to available technology, since accessible technology involves finding alternative means by way of individual skill

Educate yourself and connect with others by:

  1. Observing digital literacy of knowing the capability of using digital technology and knowing when/how to use it
  2. Observing digital technology of selecting appropriate options for communication
  3. Observing digital commerce for effective and informed consumers in a digital economy

Protect yourself and others by:

  1. Observing digital health and wellness of understanding physical and psychological health, balance between the online and real world
  2. Observing digital rights and responsibilities of knowing about privacy, freedom of speech, ethics and             empathy in the digital space
  3. Observing digital security of protecting information and devices from malware, phishing, spam messages, keylogger, data or copyright theft

Your digital footprint online is permanent and important. Permanent in the sense that it can be accessed. Your uploaded content might have been downloaded, screenshot, copied, or saved immediately you posted it by an end-user on a computer, phone, drive or cloud which could be recalled at any time.

It also creates activities and forms your personality. So, while it is impulsive to want to break a news, it is also critical to restrain yourself by using the SIFT formular (Stop, Investigate, Find and Trace) method in order not to promote fear amongst your followers or other internet users by focusing only on the negative. Active and vibrant participation in the digital space opens up opportunities, connections and learning in the connected world.

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Being able to use digital technology has become an important function in our community and it is rapidly changing the way we interact. Digital technologies offer wonderful possibilities for people who can navigate online efficiently, communicate with people respectfully and access information responsibly. These online practices are part of what is known as Digital Citizenship.


TemiDayo Babatunde is a Fellow of Chartered Institute of Information and Strategy Management (CIISM). He can be reached via his LinkedIn (

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