Digital Citizenship

It’s your first day of high school and you are nervous. You have left your entire middle school days behind you and you are now sitting among the “big kids”. You have made it.

While sitting there in your first hour class, your new teacher points to you to write three words on the board that describe who you are. You’re thinking “Oh crap, he had to choose me?!”

So you stumble up to the board and fidget with your fingers for a moment, then take the cap off of the black marker and write… “friendly, responsible, and charismatic”. You then close the cap on the marker and sit back down with a sigh of relief. There… i’m done. That wasn’t so bad.

Your teacher reads the words out loud… “Friendly, responsible, and Charismatic…” then he pauses and says, “wow all great characteristics.”

He then goes to erase the white board, except the words don’t erase. You just used a permanent marker to describe who you are in three words. The words are still there, boldly staring back at you and you can now feel the red flow to your cheeks. Simply an embarrassment. But why? Those are all great traits and probably all traits that others would say about you, too, correct?

Except they are there to stay. Permanent. What you wrote will be there for the rest of the year and for the next generation of students… literally everyone will see these three words you wrote. At least they were good and not bad.

But think about digitally what people post. That’s also permanent. How you describe yourself in front of your peers and educators may not be the same as what you write on your social media… but it’s important that one understands that everything is permanent:

“Everything that you put online is permanent….even if you hit the delete button after posting.  Odds are someone has retweeted, favorited,  or taken a screenshot of the material if it was questionable.”

There is such a thing as an electronic tattoo. People can say that things can be deleted, but honestly it’s out there for people to see and it’s connected to you. I not only read a few articles, but also listened to this TEDTalk where Juan Enriquez talks about how what we post will live far longer than we will, because it is permanent. It’s almost a scary thought.

A lot of people are on social media, judging what is posted and  written. Is what you have to say going to help you or hurt you in your future endeavors?

It’s important to use common sense when it comes to your digital citizenship. And it’s important to teach this to our young adults who are using the digital world far more than any other generation ever has. Maybe some don’t know that these things are permanent and maybe others simply don’t know what they risk after posting.

Here are FIVE tips to think about before posting:

  1. Who might be able to read this?
  2. Are you showing a bad side of yourself?
  3. Are you posting out of anger or kindness?
  4. Are you revealing too much information about yourself? (always be secure)
  5. Could someone misinterpret what you are actually saying?

To conclude this serious talk about our digital citizenship, be a good citizen online. There are bad apples in every batch, but be the good one who posts things that matter and are useful for others. Be the encourager, the one that others like to read about and see images of. Most of all, be kind when you post. Again, it’s permanent.

There is nothing more important than being kind and steering away from the bully comments that so often come up in the digital world. Instead, make it a goal to inspire others and leave a good, loving digital footprint behind.


I encourage you to take a few moments and think about ways in which you can learn to become a better citizen in this digital world. Also, feel free to check out my blog post about googling yourself! Happy learning! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s