3 ways to be a better digital citizen, online and IRL

Practicing empathy, offering assistance, and staying safe are good behaviors online and off

PLCs-communitiesEd. note: Innovation In Action is a new monthly column from the International Society of Technology in Education focused on exemplary practices in education.

digital-citizenWalk down the street, look around in a restaurant, or watch people waiting in line and you’ll notice how fully technology has become integrated into our daily lives. Views of technology and its place in society can be seen in movies, television, and cultural references.

It has become such a part of what we do and who we are that it become to be defined as a sort of “digital” citizenship. So what describes a digital citizen?

In my book Digital Citizenship in Schools, I define a digital citizen as someone who shares ideas, makes purchases, plans activities, asks for answers, interacts both at work and in play and much more on digital devices (computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.). In short: living within a digital world.

The technology has provided great opportunities for everyone using technology. These tools have increased our productivity and knowledge base in many ways (checking the weather, looking up facts), but these advantages come with a price. Now, by increasing these opportunities to connect, collaborate and engage with our personal and professional networks requires using and understanding these tools differently. Engaging in these behaviors forces us to act in new and sometimes conflicting ways—to be more social but also more individually focused on our technology. These opportunities to find and share information have increased our dependence on technology.

Being overly connected is resulting in FMO (Fear of Missing Out) or worrying what others are doing, saying, posting, liking, or friending at any time. This has become such an issue that some will keep their devices near them even when they go to bed (and will wake up and post/Tweet/chat in the middle of the night). How can users balance this idea of ultimate knowledge with being with others IRL (In Real Life)?

Next page: Empathy-building behaviors

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