Digital Citizenship: Helping Users of All Ages Thrive Online
Bowling Green, Kentucky (April 6, 2023): The definition of “citizen” throughout history has been a very simple one — an individual who is a legal resident of nation, state, or city.
Often, this title has granted or implied an individual’s obligation to vote, take part in the economy, contribute to the community, obey laws, and to respect the rights, beliefs and opinions of others. One of the most honorable compliments you can give someone is to call them “a good citizen.” This label speaks well of their work in the community, law-abiding behavior, and kindness to others.
In the 21st century, the society in which every individual should strive to be a “good citizen” has gone digital. For better or worse, nearly everything that we once did in the physical world has moved online in some capacity. The workplace, bank, government, education, and much more has moved to our computer, phone, or tablet.
“Digital citizenship” is defined as the responsible use of technology by anyone who engages with society via computers, the internet, and digital devices. An online community of good “digital citizens” has the same value and honor as a real-life community of good citizens.
The importance of digital literacy cannot be overstated in 2023. Without the skills and confidence to use a computer and access the internet, it is incredibly hard to stay connected and actively contribute to your community.
Removing obstacles to digital literacy
The internet has moved past the simplicity of messaging friends and watching cat videos on YouTube. We now use it to manage our finances, support local businesses, raise awareness about anything important to us, access telehealth support, and work our jobs more efficiently. For adults at any age, the ability to be a good digital citizen is vital for themselves, their friends and family, and their community.
The biggest obstacle to becoming a good digital citizen is lack of familiarity with today’s technology. However, a Connected Nation initiative, Teens Teach Tech, unites those who have grown up with access to computers and the internet and those who have not, with the simple goal of increasing digital citizenship through collaboration between the younger and older generations.
Powered by AT&T, Teens Teach Tech harnesses teens’ technology expertise to help their family and other community members gain new computer/internet skills. This is a great opportunity for teens to provide community service while learning real-world problem solving, collaboration, and project development skills. And it’s their parents’ and grandparents’ generations that reap the benefits.
Teens Teach Tech offers training on Internet Basics, Computer Basics, Cybersecurity, Email Basics, Mobile Device Basics and Videoconferencing. Each topic is designed to increase participants’ repertoire of digital literacy, which will make them more comfortable and confident when using a computer or the internet.
As every citizen protects themselves from the dangers of the physical world, every digital citizen must do the same in the digital world. The Acheivery, created by AT&T, is a new world of digital learning through stories that spark curiosity and learning content that entertains as well as teaches. The Acheivery has classes on digital citizenship and cybersecurity; showing students the dangers of the internet and how to secure their information. We wouldn't let our friends or family wander aimlessly into the dark at night, and we shouldn't allow them to wander aimlessly into cyberspace.
In this age of rapid technological advancement, no group or individual should be left behind without the skills to complete common, day-to-day tasks that have moved online. Each and every individual who grows their skills, confidence and online safety through Teens Teach Tech and The Achievery also grows their profile as a digital citizen.
Helping people improve their digital literacy in our online society is just as important as picking up trash on a sidewalk in our local community. Both make sure we all have a chance to thrive.
About the Author: Grant Ahlbrand is a Marketing and Communications Intern at Connected Nation. He is a senior at Western Kentucky University, where he is majoring in social media marketing.