In todays changing global society, digital technology users need to be prepared to interact and work with users from around the world. Digital technology is helping to define this new global society. Being part of a society provides opportunities to its citizens but also asks that its members behave in certain way. This new technological society is drawing users together to learn, share and interact with one another in the virtual world. But for all users to be productive there needs to be a defined level of acceptable activity by everyone, in other words a digital citizenship. The concept of digital citizenship provides a structure for this digital society, by conceptualizing and organizing appropriate technology use into a new digital culture. Anyone using these digital technologies needs to understand the parameters of appropriate use so that they can become more constructive digital citizens.
In the last five years, there has been evidence of an increasing pattern of misuse and abuse with respect to technology. This pattern of technology misuse and abuse has been documented in hundreds of articles, texts, and countless news broadcasts. Some examples include: websites to intimidate or threaten users, downloading music illegally from the Internet, plagiarizing information off the web, using cellular phones at inappropriate times (e.g., during movies, at church, or in a meeting). This situation has created users “who want to enjoy the benefits of digital technology without making the effort to use it responsibly” (Harmon, 2004). Organizations have created standards or Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) concerning how people are to use technology appropriately often without providing knowledge of what all the issues may be. In the article Online Ethics Should Begin in Classroom, Educators Say, February 16, 2000 issue of the New York Times the author states “although most schools have ‘acceptable use policies’ outlining correct behavior online, educators said documents are often either flawed or insufficient to teach young people responsible use of computers” (Mendels, 2000). How individuals behave as members of a digital society has become a critical issue for technology users, and the focus of digital citizenship.
What is digital citizenship? Digital citizenship has been defined as the norms of behavior with regard to technology use.Ribble and Bailey (2004) defined digital citizenship to address the complex issues of technology use, abuse, and misuse. The focus in this context when describing norms are those technology uses that considered as acceptable through the consent of its users. The focal point is more on the acknowledged responsibility of the technology users than on setting standards.
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) developed technology standards dealing with students’, teachers’, and administrators’ knowledge of using technology (http://cnets.iste.org). Through a process of gathering information from various interest groups and then building consensus, ISTE created the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for Students, Teachers, and Administrators (ISTE, 2003). In each of these NETS, ISTE has a section related to the Social, Ethical and Human Issues (Teacher and Administrators – Standard VI, Students – Standard 2). With these standards, ISTE provides structure for students, teachers, and administrators how to use technology in a responsible way. By implementing these standards ISTE has shown the importance of appropriate use of technology in education. By 2004 the NETS had been used or aligned to by 49 states, showing the importance of technology standards as a part of the educational curricula. In 2007 ISTE has begun a process of updating and evaluating the NETS for students to stay current with the changes in technology. At their annual meeting in the summer of 2007 this updated draft of the NETS for students was accepted by the organization. Replacing social, ethical and human issues was the new standard of digital citizenship to encompass these ideas of ethics in the educational setting.
As new digital technologies emerge and evolve, it becomes more difficult to create a framework of codified principles for acting responsibly in using these technologies. Some laws have been enacted, and some groups and organizations have created rules or policies. Unfortunately, there is no universal agreement on how users should act when using digital technologies. The purpose of focusing on digital citizenship is to create a dialogue among technology users on the issues of misuse and abuse of technology. Digital technology provides great improvements in society and continues to change how users work, learn, and play. However, users should ensure that digital technology continues to enhance our society. The benefits it provides should outweigh the problems it creates.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Ergonomics: The science of fitting the workplace to the worker—involves reducing exposures to physical trauma, redesigning tools and workstations, and preventing and treating Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs), such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tendonitis ( Occupational and Environmental Health Center, 2004 ).
Plagiarize: To steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own : use (another’s production) without crediting the source : to commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source ( Merriam-Webster, 2004 ).
Netiquette: ( Internet Etiquette ) : Etiquette guidelines for posting messages to online services, and particularly Internet newsgroups. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions (i.e., avoiding flames), but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. For example, netiquette advises users to use simple formats because complex formatting may not appear correctly for all readers. In most cases, netiquette is enforced by fellow users who will vociferously object if you break a rule of netiquette (Pcwebopedia, 2004 AU11: The in-text citation "Pcwebopedia, 2004" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).
E-Commerce: ( Electronic-Commerce ) : Buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet, especially the World Wide Web ( WhatIs, 2004 ).
IT: ( Information Technology ) : Pronounced as separate letters, the broad subject concerned with all aspects of managing and processing information, especially within a large organization or company. Because computers are central to information management, computer departments within companies and universities are often called IT departments. Some companies refer to this department as IS (Information Services) or MIS (Management Information Services) (Pcwebopedia, 2004 AU10: The in-text citation "Pcwebopedia, 2004" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).
Information Literacy: Ability to locate, evaluate, and use information to become independent life-long learners ( Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, 1996 ).
Computer Ethics: Analysis of the nature and social impact of computer technology and the corresponding formulation and justification of policies for the ethical use of such technology ( Johnson & Nissenbaum, 1995 ).