Are you a good digizen? Know your rights and responsibilities!

Digital Citizenship

Most of us could easily come up with a list of rights and responsibilities for being an Australian citizen. In our pluralist democratic society, we’re proud to have developed a set of core values and the accompanying legislation that define these. It seems we’ve had a sense of these values all our lives but it’s worth knowing that these first became law on Australia Day 1949. The values we hold are reflected in both our rights and our responsibilities as citizens.

We’d all agree that top of our list of core Australian values — apart from our irrepressible humour, love of cricket and a general ‘she’ll be right’ attitude — would be respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual. This freedom — of opinion, expression, thought, conscience and religious worship, is the cornerstone of our nation.

Along with these rights come responsibilities, roughly summed up as obligations:

  • to obey the law (yes, including the one first passed in 1949!)
  • to defend our country if necessary, and
  • to vote.

Simple really.

So, we’re pretty clear about what our values are, what the law upholds, our rights, and also our responsibilities as Australian citizens. Fast forward from that first 1949 legislation and quite a lot has changed in the way we connect and interact with others, both in Australia and across the globe. We now live in a digital world — the ICT revolution has happened and we are used to seeing technological developments on a daily basis. None of us could imagine a world without the internet, and if this is a central part of our lives we should probably ask ourselves if our Australian values, rights and responsibilities are also shared by others in our increasingly globalized and online community?

We are citizens but also digizens — short for ‘digital citizens’ and it’s fair to say that we need to know how to use digital technologies effectively and safely. What are the values, rights and responsibilities that go hand in hand with digital citizenship? How do we learn about these, and how do we know that they are shared and upheld by other, often anonymous, users of the internet?

The Australian Curriculum website defines Digital Citizenship as:

An acceptance and upholding of the norms of appropriate, responsible behaviour with regard to the use of digital technologies. This involves using digital technologies effectively and not misusing them to disadvantage others. Digital citizenship includes appropriate online etiquette, literacy in how digital technologies work and how to use them, an understanding of ethics and related law, knowing how to stay safe online, and advice on related health and safety issues such as predators and the permanence of data.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, Technologies Glossary

Now that’s a comprehensive summary — and it’s not difficult to see that there are certainly ways to transfer our offline values to our online world — despite the context and the medium posing new challenges for digizens.

Digital reputation, digital relationships and behaviour, knowing how to keep safe online, and understanding cyber-law are now the essential responsibilities of every digital citizen.

The Student Wellbeing Hub has a focus on Online Safety where educators, students and parents can find a collection of quality-assured, age-appropriate resources and current advice to build understanding of the online world and to support the safe and effective use of digital technologies.

The school community can further explore ways that the Australian Curriculum addresses this issue via the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability, and the Digital Technologies subject, among others, which is designed to ensure that:

all students benefit from learning about and working with traditional, contemporary and emerging technologies’ and importantly, ‘students need to consider the use and impact of technological solutions on equity, ethics, and personal and social values’.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, Technologies Introduction

Student Wellbeing Hub logoStudent Wellbeing Hub
The Student Wellbeing Hub is designed for educators, students and parents in order to support the implementation of a safe and supportive school environment that promotes the wellbeing of everyone in the school community.

The Hub is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, and is maintained and hosted by Education Services Australia.

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