Navigating the Digital World with Kindness and Responsibility

Adult Learning

Recently I was approached by a young person who requested I talk about online etiquette; how we behave responsibly in the digital world. Today I am going to share in belief what I shared with them. What digital behaviour is about and how you can do it as a digital native.

As a digital marketing consultant and coach, I see amazing things happening online, but there’s also a potential downside. Just like in the real world, the online world can be a mix of good and bad. The good news is, with a few simple practices, we can all make the internet a more positive and trustworthy place.

Think of the internet as a giant, amazing party. There’s so much to see and do, new people to meet, and endless information to explore. But at a party, there are usually some ground rules to make sure everyone has a good time. The same goes for the internet! Responsible digital behaviours are like those party rules – they help us all have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Here’s the thing: responsible digital behaviours aren’t about restrictions, they’re about building trust and fostering healthy relationships online. Just like in the real world, if you treat people with kindness and respect, you’re more likely to get the same back.

So, how can we put these ideas into action? Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Being a Data Guardian: Imagine your personal information like your phone number or address as precious jewels. You wouldn’t just hand them out to anyone on the street, would you? The same goes online! Be careful about who you share this kind of information with, and only do so on trusted websites. This excludes public servants who took office of leadership to serve people, their contacts mainly emails and phones should be available for the people they serve to reach them.
  • Respecting Boundaries: We all have things we’d rather keep private, and that applies online too. Before you share a funny photo of your friend or even tag them in a post, make sure it’s cool with them first. Just because something seems funny to you, it might not be for someone else. Your humour is costing others their sanity. Be cautious with other people’s images.
  • Words Matter, Online and Off: Remember that the person behind the screen you’re chatting with is a real human being. Would you say something hurtful to their face? Treat them with kindness and avoid anything that could be considered bullying or harassment. Spread positivity online – it’s contagious! What you don’t want others to say to you don’t say it to them.
  • Double-Check Before You Share: The internet is full of information, but not all of it is created equal. Before you hit that share button, take a moment to make sure the information is accurate. Do some quick fact-checking to avoid spreading misinformation. There is a lot of falsehood out there. Many clickbaits are everywhere, destroying other people’s images and characters.
  • Mind Your Manners (Even With Emojis): Just like in face-to-face conversations, there’s a certain etiquette to online interactions. Avoid yelling in ALL CAPS (it’s like shouting in a library!), and don’t go overboard with emojis. Be clear, and respectful, and remember that there’s a person on the other side of the screen.
  • Beware of Online Scammers: There are always those who try to take advantage of others, and the internet is no exception. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be sceptical of unexpected offers or strange links, and don’t share your personal information easily. Protect your information the same way you protect your life.
  • Taking a Break is Okay: The internet is a fantastic tool, but it’s important to strike a balance. Schedule some screen-free time each day to connect with the real world around you. Go for a walk, meet up with friends, or simply relax with a book.
  • Sharing with Permission: You wouldn’t take something that belongs to someone else without asking, would you? The same goes for online content. Before you share someone else’s work, make sure you have their permission. Give credit where credit is due, and remember that collaboration is key to a healthy online community.
  • Protecting Creativity: Copyright laws exist for a reason! Treat other people’s work, whether it’s a blog post, a cool design, or even a funny meme, with respect. Don’t plagiarize or steal content – it’s not cool and it is a crime.
  • Curating Your Online Presence: The Internet never forgets! That means it’s important to be mindful of the information you share online. Review your privacy settings regularly, and be conscious of the image you’re projecting.

By following these simple tips, we can all be responsible digital citizens. Remember, the internet is what we make it. Let’s work together to create a kinder, more trustworthy online space. Be the change you want to see online! Let’s make the internet a party where everyone feels welcome and respected.

Here is an article I wrote about developing your own social media policy to safeguard your digital behaviour. https://patriciakahill.com/deciding-when-to-create-a-social-media-policy-and-what-to-consider/

Patricia Kahill

Patricia Kahill is a multipotentialite Christian entrepreneur, Content Marketing Coach and founder of the Content Marketing agency, Kahill Insights that helps business owners create engaging and interactive content items for digital platforms with a focus on returning a desired outcome. Patricia was the producer of SlamDunk Basketball Talk a show on House of Talent online TV, a former fellow at Harvest Institute for leadership and now an assessor there, and an alumnus of the YELP class of 2017. A member of the BNI Integrity chapter and African Women Entrepreneur Cooperative. She is driven by passion and curiosity, been taking every opportunity that has been given to her with an ambition of stamping her footprint on the world.

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