What does digital citizenship mean to me? Well, let’s first talk about what it means to be a citizen. To me, being a citizen is a word that officially links us to feeling like we belong to a large group of people. I’m a member of the Airport Heights neighborhood community in Anchorage. I’m a member of the National Education Association. I’m a member of a few Facebook and Google communities. But member does not carry the same meaning as citizen. Without looking up the official definition of citizen, I think the word is much greater than member. Yes, the word could probably be used arbitrarily to describe a membership, but I think it carries more perhaps because people often earn the right to be citizens. Example: All it takes to be the member of a Facebook community is a click of a button. Any dummy can do that. Any dummy can be an NEA member too. Well, a dummy with a teaching certificate who pays their dues =) To be a citizen of the United States, however, requires greater knowledge regarding the rules, regulations, and responsibilities that all citizens are expected to obey in order for the society to function.
This is how I see digital citizenship. There are rules, regulations, and responsibilities for being a digital citizen. Are those rules, regulations, and responsibilities broken? Of course, they are. But in order for the digital world to function, the vast majority of its citizens must comply with the written (and unwritten) laws of the digital landscape. Here is a very soft example: I’m a member of a fantasy baseball league on Yahoo. Being a member gives me the right to play the game as long as I pay the fee. But being a citizen of the internet requires me to abide by the rules: 1. Dedicate myself to checking my roster daily. 2. Don’t leave players on the disabled list on your starting roster. 3. Talk smack on the chat board, but do it with class. These are established norms that can be applied toward any fantasy sports platform.
So in conclusion, my point is that citizenship is a word that represents what it means to be a member of a large group of people. In every society, there are responsible citizens, irresponsible citizens, helpful citizens and useless citizens. I have discovered that the digital world is no different. So far, this class is helping me understand what it means to be a digital citizen.