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6 Important Skills that Every Digital Citizen Should Have

From social media to online shopping, we rely on technology to communicate, learn, start a business, and—the biggest reason yet—to entertain ourselves. But with the convenience of technology, comes responsibility.

Digital citizenship is a term that’s been discussed quite a bit lately, but what exactly does it mean? It refers to the way in which people use technology and internet resources—whether right or wrong. For example, everyone that uses technology could be defined as a digital citizen, but only a good digital citizen knows how to be responsible with their online presence and show proper online etiquette. Here are seven essential skills every digital citizen should have:

1. Security should always be first priority. 

Every digital citizen should always keep security in mind when exercising their right to move about the internet freely. This means using strong passwords, avoiding suspicious links and websites, and keeping your antivirus software up to date.

2. Have a thorough understanding of password protection.

In this world, passwords are everything. Which is why password protection is critical. Every digital citizen should have a good understanding of how to keep their passwords safe including using strong passwords, not sharing passwords with others, not using the same password for multiple accounts, and changing passwords regularly.

3. Know how to protect yourself from cyberbullying and harassment online.

Cyberbullying attacks can be hard to handle for anyone, but there are steps you can take to fight back and protect yourself. Blocking and reporting the aggressor as well as seeking help from a professional are the first steps you’d take.

4. Take ownership over your online presence.

Taking ownership means creating a positive digital footprint or collection of information about oneself that exists online. Essentially, a digital footprint is the existence of information about an individual that exists purely based on their activity while searching the web—what a person likes, what they post, the information they provide on certain sites, their browser history, etc. All of those components make up someone’s digital footprint.

Make sure that it is content that is accurate and authentic to you as an individual or the organization/company you represent. Be mindful of the content you post and make sure that it reflects well on both you and your employer.

That also means being aware of how your actions affect others online – both positively and negatively. This means avoiding cyberbullying, hate speech, and being respectful of others' opinions and beliefs.

5. Recognize when personal information is being collected about you.

Every digital citizen should be aware of the risks associated with data collection and take steps to protect their privacy. Social engineering is the term often used for a broad range of malicious activities accomplished through human interactions. It uses psychological manipulation to trick users into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive information.

Social engineering attacks happen in one or more steps. A perpetrator first investigates the intended victim to gather necessary background information. Then, the attacker moves to gain the victim’s trust and provide stimuli for subsequent actions that break security practices, such as revealing sensitive information.

A good digital citizen will know which websites use and sell collected data such as phone numbers, email addresses, and more to market products and make money and learn how to protect themselves from providing too much information.

6. Understand and practice a healthy online and offline balance.

The effects of technology can be detrimental to our physical and mental wellbeing if we’re not careful. A good digital citizen will know the risks of spending too much time online, texting and driving, scrolling through social media rather than sleeping, or putting too much stock in what people say about them on the internet.

Digital citizenship skills make all the difference for anyone who is consistently online and are essential for every digital citizen to possess and practice regularly. By practicing these skills, you’ll be able to navigate the online world safely and responsibly. Remember, the internet is a public space, and your actions have consequences. Be mindful of your online presence, protect your privacy, and use technology responsibly.

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