By After School Communications Manager Michael Luchies
It’s a brand new year and many of us have created resolutions — things in our lives or the world that we want to change, stop, or improve. As the role technology plays in our lives continues to increase, it’s important that we reflect on how we behave online if we want to have a positive impact on ourselves and others.
Regardless of who you are or what your online habits are, it can be difficult to always maintain a positive image.
On any given day, I may be confused, upset, excited, happy, sad, and angry in a matter of a few hours. If I let any of those moments get the best of me and lose my digital manners, I could make a mistake that lives with me for years or even decades. A single tweet has caused people to lose their job, relationship, or a college scholarship.
Let’s keep things positive. After all, you can have just as big of a positive impact on others online as you can have a negative one that hurts you and others. But, keeping an eye on your habits and wellness is vital. Here are 6 ways to be a better digital citizen in 2019:
You can spread joy online. Something as simple as a smile can be contagious in “the real world,” and the same can be said for the digital world. Improving someone’s day by sharing a few kind words can help them pay it forward to someone else. Practice posting positive comments to your network and others on their posts. You’ll be surprised at the impact you can make just by being nice and positive.
Also, focus on the positive interactions you have with others rather than continuing the negative ones. The more you can ignore negativity and engage in positive conversations, they better you will feel, and the more positivity you will spread to others.
Don’t Ignore Those Who Need Help
“I just don’t want to live anymore.”
“Does anyone know how to stand up to a bully?”
Not everyone who needs help makes it obvious, but when messages like the above are shared by people you’re connected to online, you have an opportunity to help them.
“Don’t be a bystander,” says Carlos Figueiredo from Two Hat Security. We all have a responsibility to help others. If you see someone being attacked, share some words of kindness with that person. If you’re comfortable with it, stand up to those attacking the other person by being polite and direct. You could say, “No one deserves to be treated like this. How would you feel?”
While you may also get an angry response, your comment may help the person being attacked and help the person sending negative messages to reconsider their actions. “Not acting can come at a high external and internal price,” Carlos states. “External as someone can seriously use your help, internal as you wouldn’t be living up to your values and virtues if you want to help but don’t act.”
Resilient: “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.”
Being told you’re worthless, or ugly, or being made fun of in any way over and over, day after day, can wear you down. It can change how you feel about yourself and how you treat others. Being resilient means that you don’t let the thoughts and opinions of others impact you on a deep level. It is much easier said than done, but it is possible with the right support system in place and by taking care of your mental and physical health.
Nearly all social media platforms have reporting systems. On After School, a single click of “report” under a post removes that post from a school’s feed. While other networks may require multiple reports for a post to be investigated, reporting abuse helps networks battle against misuse of their communities.
When you see something hurtful or inappropriate for the network it’s posted on, report it to the social network.
Social networks should be held accountable for their actions and be transparent. “Good digital citizens keep online products and communities accountable by asking for transparency,”says Carlos. This can be done by asking for better reporting tools and processes, and by demanding safety practices.
Using anything to excess is not healthy. Balance the time you spend on technology and make sure to give yourself time off of your devices.
Reach out to the After School Safety Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have digital citizenship tips to share? Share with our Safety Team at @SafetyonSocial on Twitter. I’d like to thank Carlos Figueiredo (@Online_Citizen) for sharing digital citizenship tips for this article.