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Digital citizenship may be described as demonstration of understanding of etiquette, respect for privacy

and consideration for others feelings and ideals in every digital communication. As internet use became
more widely accessible, the initial concerns held by many were about safety, security and potential
predators. Over time as safeguards have been put into place to enhance safety and security, the buzz
has changed to online behaviors and respect for others in the digital world. Technology users of all ages
must understand and exemplify positive behaviors of citizenship. Talking about and practicing principles
of digital citizenship will contribute to building an online culture of ethics and safety for all.

Many aspects of digital citizenship are teachable opportunities for the newcomer as well as reminders for
the seasoned veteran. Appropriate use of photographs in social media and other online resources is a
topic relevant in many different contexts and to most digital communicators. For example, photographs
can be posted on social media sites and individuals in the photos can be tagged without knowledge,
permission or consent. Is this fair and just? Another example is the false belief that photos posted in
SnapChat, are automatically deleted after the communication has been received. This has fueled to the
idea that SnapChat is a harmless way to share photos that wont be out there forever. What many
users dont realize is that screen shots of SnapChat photos can be shared, saved and digitally
disseminated - forever. A photo innocently shared may be out there for all time and may result in
unintended consequences for the poster or for the subject(s) in the photo. The digital neophyte should be
aware of potential consequences of posting or sharing photos within social media sites and display
respect for self and others when posting photos.

In her blog, Be a Good Digital Citizen: Tips for Teens and Parents Caroline Knorr presents essential
facts about digital life. While her focus was on people less than 20 years of age, in the context of this
discussion, I propose youth be defined by digital experience and knowledge not simply by chronological
age. Ms. Knorr makes the following points that should be considered and remembered by young and old
alike as we navigate the digital world.
Everything happens in front of a vast, invisible, and often anonymous audience.
Everything leaves a digital footprint.
Information cannot be controlled. Anything can be copied, altered, and instantly shared.
Distance and anonymity separate actions and consequences. Some may believe they can
get away with unethical or unacceptable behavior because they dont experience immediate
Caroline Knorr goes on to list tips and reminders that are relevant for digital users of any age. First,
Think before you post or text -- a bad reputation could be just a click away. One must consider
the person you would least want to read your post (or see the picture) before clicking Send; how would
you feel if this person viewed the material? Digital communications are analagous to writing with a pen;
content cannot be erased. Dont lose sight of the fact that What goes around comes around. If you
want to be respected in the digital world, display respect for others. Sharing someone elses
communication without permission or posting an embarassing photo of someone can have unintended
consequences for another person or for yourself. Nothing is a private as we might hope. Remember to
Spread heart, not hurt. Kindness counts. If you wouldnt say something face to face, dont say it
online. Stand up for and support those who are bullied or harassed. When using material created by
others, Give and get credit. We all have the right to have our work respected and have the
responsibility to respect the work of others. Even though cutting and pasting others creations, and
illegally downloading content may be easy to do, this does not make it right. Digital cheating is still
cheating. In a broader sense of digital citizenship, Make this a world you want to live in. Spread the
positive and use your talents to contribute to the online world in constructive ways.
How much do teens use social media and what are their concerns about online posting? Common Sense
Media's Program for the Study of Children and Media found 51% of teens visit social networking sites
daily. While 75% of teens reported having a profile on at least one social media site, 23% are using two
different types of social media each day. Teens state social media helps their relationships with friends
(52%) and family (37%), and that they are less shy and more confident when using social media. Teen
use of digital media is not gender neutral; 75% of girls but only 42% of boys report they love posting
photos. For girls especially, putting pictures online can be stressful. Compared to boys, girls are more
likely to feel left out after seeing pictures of others posted online (28% vs. 57%) and have greater worry
about other people posting ugly pictures of them (24% vs 45%). In order to improve their image, 28% of
girls have edited photos before posting them on line compared to just 9% of boys. Photographic images
posted online can have power over ones sense of well-being and happiness.

Inasmuch as multiple generations of users are posting images on digital media sites, teaching citizenship
skills might be done in an informal setting where youths and adults share dialog about the use and
misuse photographic images in digital media. Each group will have concerns unique to their perspective,
but shared concerns will exist. Adults will have the role of both learner and mentor; the same may be true
of youth. As the digital age evolves, we are all learning new behavorial habits and considerations.

As Andrew Marcinek notes in The Importance of Digital Citizenship in Social Media, The best offense
always begins with a solid defense. This is true in sports and is directly applicable to responsible use of
classroom technology and social media. In order to promote citizenship, students must be trained and be
provided the proper resources to achieve success. Much media focus has been placed on teen citizens
but the resources listed below can be used to stimulate thought and conversation for all ages.

Common Sense Media has designed a poster which raises questions to be considered before posting an
image. The simple algorithm allows the audience to answer a series of questions designed to determine
whether posting a particular photo meets the standards of good citizenship. I have adapted the content of
the poster to the slide presentaiton accompanying this paper.

A fun and interactive website,, was created by the Ad Council, the Office on Violence
Against Women, and the Family Violence Prevention Fund and is intended to promote healthy youth
relationships. This site addresses a variety of social media citizenship issues in a youthful, fun way and
was developed with ample involvement from kids, using blogs and face-to-face "friendship groups" in
which kids talked about the issues. The web site lists what teens consider to be the top social-networking
gaffes, such as spreading rumors or violating other people's privacy. It also has an area where teens
questions are answered. On one page of this site, more than a dozen questions with differing scenarios
in which the writer was asked to send or post a compromising photo at the request of a boyfriend or
girlfriend are shared. The responses are very positive as in the style of Dear Abby and help the
questioner understand why saying no and maintaining a positive image and self-respect are important.

Below is my plan to implement education about responsible posting of photos.

Action Plan
Provide education about smart digital citizenship in terms of posting and using photographs in social
media spaces and online.

All users of digital communicatons with emphasis on neophytes of all ages. While this program may be
used in the classroom, including families in the process will serve to reinforce good citizenship in all
aspects of the learners digtital life.

1. Understand essential facts about digital citizenship.
2. Learn to make proper choices when posting photographs of yourself and others.
3. Recognize the consequences to self and others of posting inappropriate photos.

Action steps
1. Use small, multi-generational informal discussion groups to initiate discussions of making positive
choices when posting pictures.
2. Discuss examples of negative or hurtful use of photos in digital spaces. Design call out cards in
the style of to respond to the examples.
3. Use the resources below to stimulate and advance discussions.
4. Ask participants to share their own examples of positive and negative outcomes from pictures
that have been posted or shared.