Although Ethics is a critical skill that must be modeled to students daily through school, in the community, and at home, it does not entirely define digital citizenship. Ethics is a major topic that must be addressed across the board. Behaving unethically, unfortunately, is not just an issue to repair within the realm of the “ignorance of youth”. Ethical participation in society as a whole should be a non-negotiable action whether from major companies, small business owners, school principals, teacher, parents and so on. The most ethical person might not have the best digital citizenship in the 21st century given that a focus on citizenship and ever-changing technology brings about other areas of concern.
Having access to technology and even digital literacy does not make one ethical. As a citizen, one should be able to feel safe as they connect with others online as well as in the community. One should also be cognizant of their own digital footprint given that it follows them forever. Character education can provide a pathway to successful digital citizenship when it is based on care values on the community and best ethical practices. It is not only impossible to educate youth but detrimental when adults decided that removal of technology is the answer. Youth will eventually gain access and their knowledge of proper as well as the productive use of the technology can stem from mimicking other bad behavior or unknowingly (or purposefully) exhibiting poor choices as they create their permanent digital footprints.
One can be civil and respect themselves and others by using digital etiquette during digital communication and being responsible while using digital mediums. One can be social and educate themselves and connect with others by being aware of the ethics as well as laws that apply to the digital medium and having at least a basic knowledge of new digital communication trends as they emerge and knowing the health issues that could arise from use of digital communication over time. One can political and protect themselves and others by being proactive with protection of their information online especially when they are dealing with digital commerce and ensuring that they know about the options they have in digitally communicating so that they may choose the safest way for themselves and others.
Digital citizenship encompasses many sub-categories that are very important however, it stands on basic principles such as kindness and respect. The foundation of humanity is a necessity in both citizenship and digital citizenship. Morals, ethics, respect, honesty etc. are paramount to building emotional intelligence. It is extremely important to model and learn as a community that one’s online actions are always in real life. In real life, a world that is kind, respectful and educated is desired as well as an online experience that mirrors the same values.