Definition: What is Digital Responsibility?
Digital responsibility refers to the healthy relationship in which people have with technology and their online interactions. This means having good cyber hygiene, practicing safe conduct, and taking ownership over personal behaviour online.
Why is Digital Responsibility important?
There’s no stopping the digital native generation when it comes to technology. Device adoption is happening earlier than it has ever before. Young toddlers are finding their way easily around an iPad, and schools are introducing web-based learning as young as Grade 1. Digital responsibility is an important field of study and should be made as part of the essential learning curriculum - a sentiment echoed by parents in a recent Google report.
In Google’s report on emerging trends entitled “Future of the Classroom”, it highlights digital responsibility as one of the key issues parents and educators are concerned with. There is a global recognition that cyber safety and digital citizenship should be addressed in schools, where continuous education around this subject can foster positive behaviours online. Teaching digital responsibility to students is a broad and hefty task, which can be broken down into the following:
“Netiquette” refers to the basic ways of communicating online with other users in a courteous and respectful manner. It is a set of expected code of conduct that someone should demonstrate when interacting with another through social media, email, instant messaging, etc. Students should start learning this early in a closed classroom environment, where they can start practicing communication skills with their peers and teachers. Schools and home environments are great places to model good netiquette.
Digital kindness and empathy essentially combats cyberbullying by reminding each other that there is a real person behind the other side of the screen. In a generation rife with cyberbullying, hateful messages, and biased opinions, it is important to remember we have a responsibility to bring humanity back to technology. By raising young, responsible users, we can all play the part of preventing cyberbullying by discouraging unacceptable behaviours towards others at an early age.
Ethical content creation refers to a content creator’s responsibility not to promote harmful, hateful, or disturbing content online that could put vulnerable viewers at risk. The ease of uploading to social media platforms such as Tik Tok, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube means everyone can be a content creator as long as they have a smartphone and an internet connection. However, children and teens need to be aware that the images and videos they post online can have negative consequences. Dangerous challenges such as the “skull breaker challenge” or the “tide pod challenge” have been created by unethical content creators that have resulted in devastation. Additionally, ethics and responsibilities around online content can also refer to creators disclosing paid-for content by sponsors and advertisements that have hidden motivations.
Proper uses of copyrighted materials and crediting sources is a problem that we have to combat as online users. The internet makes it as simple as two clicks to “copy” and “paste” someone else’s work, so avoiding plagiarism and properly crediting a person’s work is down to personal responsibility. It is also necessary to understand the importance of citing sources because of the sheer amount of fake news and misinformation around the web (see: media literacy).
Adults also have a significant amount of digital responsibility, both as an individual and as a model of behaviour for the upcoming generations. Parents, educators, and tech companies have to play their parts in creating a safe space for children and teens to develop healthy and positive relationships with technology, which allows them to digitally flourish.
Digital Responsibility Activities
Here are some activities and tips you can do to engage in digital responsibility education:
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