BY LORRAINE McKINNEY
Even if we think about the internet as a world in itself, we don’t often think about ourselves as citizens of that world. But it is important that as students, we take the time to learn how to be good digital citizens. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going out and volunteering for stuff, cleaning up trash, etc. A good digital citizen is someone who uses the internet wisely, follows internet etiquette and helps to make the net a great world for themselves and everyone else. Here are some things that you as a student can do to be a good digital citizen.
- Protect Your Privacy
The first thing you need to do is protect yourself. While you are trying to be a good digital citizen, there are plenty of others out there who aren’t. Do you know how easy it is for someone to use your private information for identity fraud? Make sure that you know how to protect all your private information, including phone number, address, email address, etc. Also, be careful about the personal information you post, or at least whom you share information with.
- Understand Password Security
Don’t make it all too easy for someone to steal your personal information. Learn how to use a system such as LastPass to remember all your passwords, or use a secure app to safely store all your password information.
- Be Careful With Photos
It is also important to be careful when you take photos. The most innocent photos can still reveal a lot of things that shouldn’t be posted online. For instance, if you take a photo of your home, make sure the street number isn’t showing. If you take a photo of your car, don’t include the license plate. Also, learn how to turn off geotagging features. Did you know that there are some facial recognition software programs that can find you even if you aren’t tagged?
- Use Backup Software
Make sure that you are using software to backup all your files and data. The best solution is a subscription-based, centrally hosted, online backup tool which can save your files on the cloud and can protect your data from ransomware. A great example of the type of software you should be using can be found at reevert.
- Respect Personal Property
Over the years, it has been drilled into your head that you have to put things in your own words instead of plagiarizing the work of others. This holds true for anything you take from the internet. You should learn about copyright, creative commons and licensing, not just for others, but for your own work as well. You can use anything that is public domain, but to use anything that’s not, you will need permission, and you will need to cite the source.
- Tweet Politely
You probably don’t like it when people send you rude tweets. Well, think of those rude tweets as a great incentive to be careful about what you tweet. It’s a do-unto-others type of thing: If you expect nice tweets, you have to be nice yourself. Make it a point to be as positive as possible when you are online, no matter what kind of mood you are really in.
- Find Your Personal Brand
What do you want your online reputation to be? Do you already have a pretty good internet presence? Or are you still trying to create the right image? Remember: Everything you share is out there forever, and it all reflects on you, for better or worse.
- Be Professional
Just because you’re a student doesn’t mean you’re free to behave however you want to when you’re online. You are going to be looking for a job after you graduate, so start acting professional now. Don’t post those photos of yourself passed out at last weekend’s party. Use proper spelling and grammar, and of course, internet etiquette.
Lorraine McKinney is an academic tutor and elearning specialist.