It is important to understand what the phrase digital citizens means in order to understand its importance and why we’re helping the students in the schools that we work with become digital citizens.
In their work on Digital Citizenship, Mossberger, Tolbert and McNeal define Digital Citizenship as “the ability to participate in society online.” Being a digital citizen then, implies access to online resources. According to Wikipedia’s article on the Digital Citizen, participation can be divided into two main stages, static and dynamic.
In the static stage, information is primarily based on read-only. The digital citizen is primarily a consumer of information when it comes to information dissemination. When it comes to deliberation, digital citizens in the static stage participate in polls, bulletin boards and things of that nature. Digital citizenry in the static stage is characterized by passive engagement.
When people move into the dynamic stage of digital citizenship, they get involved in active two-way communication as a means of information dissemination. This is through email requests, newsletters, newsgroups and email lists. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter provide ways for people to communicate easily. The advent of websites that allow people, instead of being consumers, become producers of content, help digital citizen’s voices to be heard. Utilizing these resources to learn new skills, create content that can be collaborated on, all serves to to increase the skills and knowledge of participating digital citizens.
In my last post about the digital divide, we explored the gap that exists between people with access to ICT and Internet technology. Digital citizenship at its core requires access to the greater online society, and unless we bridge the divide people without access cannot participate as digital citizens and will be at a disadvantage to those with access.