What is Digital Citizenship?

Digital citizenship is the ability to navigate our digital environments in a way that’s safe and responsible and to actively and respectfully engage in these spaces. 

Although we live and interact in the digital world in a similar way to the offline world, we’re not always as mindful of our actions online. We can sometimes act without realizing how it could affect our reputation, safety and growth as digital citizens. In the meantime, everything we do online continues to affect and define our digital world and selves.

Digital media also provide unique opportunities for everyone to get involved, to speak out and to make change both online and offline. Our actions in our online world can have a real impact and we all have a role to play as active digital citizens.

Did you know: It takes just 10 percent of the people in a community to set its values. Even a single voice can make other people less likely to conform and more likely to speak out.

Here are some examples of how we can all be responsible digital citizens and help build a better online world:

Empathy and community-building

Positive technology use

  • I use digital tools to connect with my friends and family
  • I use digital tools to be an active citizen in my community
  • I’m mindful of my digital media use and use digital devices as tools at specific times for specific purposes

Sharing information

  • I check reputable sources before sharing info
  • I share information that I know is useful and reliable
  • I challenge misinformation without giving it extra attention
  • When I see information online, I ask:
    • What do I already know about this?
    • Why do I want to believe or disprove it?               
    • What would make me change my mind?

Rights, privacy and ethics

  • I use tools, settings and preferences to manage my privacy
  • I respect other people’s privacy when I share things online
  • I know how to ethically access content like music, games and videos
  • I know my Fair Dealing rights and how to use public domain and Creative Commons media
  • I know my rights as a citizen, a consumer and a human being and how to assert them online

Find out how to take part in MediaSmarts’ annual Digital Citizen Day and help build a better world online!

Teaching digital citizenship in the classroom

By teaching students the various aspects of digital media literacy from an early age, educators will start students on the road to active and responsible digital citizenship. As digital citizens, students should have the ability to access, use, understand and engage with media (including online communities); apply critical thinking to all the media they use and consume; and know how to all these things ethically and effectively.

Read more about incorporating digital citizenship in the classroom here.