5 things you can do to help make the internet a better place

October 20, 2017

Digital citizenship is about how you act online. It includes acting ethically by deciding whether certain actions are right or wrong. By thinking before we act, we can make better choices and be a part of a more enjoyable and safer online community.

When navigating the internet, it's important to ask yourself:

  1. Is it legal?
    The availability of unauthorized, copyrighted content makes illegal downloading, digital cheating, and plagiarizing easy. That doesn't make it right. Understanding what content is safe to access or download is important to obeying the law and practicing good online behaviour. It also prevents risks such as copyright infringements, downloading malware, potential lawsuits, or criminal consequences. It's your responsibly to use a legitimate media source when you access and download content.
  2. Is it hurtful or embarrassing to someone else?
    42% of youth say they have been bullied online. Cyberbullying can damage a young person's self-esteem, reputation, and mental health. Be aware of the ethical and legal implications of posting inappropriate pictures, saying mean things, doxxing (sharing someone else's personal info to invite harassment), and other acts of cyberbullying.
  3. Is it harmful to my or someone else's reputation?
    It's also possible to cause harm unintentionally by oversharing your (or other people's) lives and private information.  It's important to get consent before sharing someone's posts, photos, or other content. Everyone deserves to have a say in how and where their information is being shared.
  4. Does it put personal information at risk?
    Many sites have default settings that provide more access to your information than you may like. Where possible, do a privacy check and customize your settings so personal information, such as your phone number and address, are hidden. Read the privacy policy or terms of use agreement of any social media sites or apps you use, and make sure you're not sharing more than you'd like to.
  5. Is the online me the authentic me?
    The ability to be anonymous online can make it easy to ignore ethical thinking. However, this does not make us less responsible for our actions. Some actions can have serious social or legal consequences. While you may have good reasons to use a separate online identity in some online or social media communities (when permitted by the terms of use), that doesn't mean you can't be true to yourself and practice the same empathy and ethics you have in face-to-face interactions. You may find that the “real you” is much more appreciated online!

Read our Digital Citizenship: Guide for Parents to learn more.


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