Monday, 6 June 2011

Cybersafety vs Digital Citizenship

When Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities he coined the phrase … “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way...” this seems to rather aptly describes the polarisation of views about the digitally enhanced world we find ourselves living in.

It is the very features that make the internet so effective and egalitarian that cause many people, especially parents, schools and governments, concern about cybersafety, online predators, cyberbullying and identity theft. As library professionals we reject censorship in all of its forms, including filtering, yet at the same time we accept the responsibility to help educate parents and assist them in ensuring the safety of their children, and indeed themselves, online. There are a number of excellent resources and local research that is well worth investigating.

Cybersafety resources
Some quick tips for being smart, safe, and responsible with technology (Alannah and Madeline Foundation) includes information about digital footprints, reputations, privacy, sharing photographs and managing online relationships
Cybersmart Resources (developed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority) includes information about reporting illegal and offensive content and suspicious behaviour and resources for libraries, parents and children

Research into Cybersafety
Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing is based at the University of Western Sydney. The centre has a YouTube channel with some useful clips about their research projects, including Social Networking and the Benefits to Young People: highlights from a Literature Review.

Digital Citizenship
Cybersafety is rather like road safety, all the road rules and safety equipment are only part of the solution, we need well trained drivers who understand their responsibilities on the road. In a similar way, schools are taking positive steps and teaching students to be savvy digital citizens. One good example worth exploring comes from the Educational Origami wiki:

“The Digital Citizen will follow six tenets of citizenship.
1. Respect yourself
2. Protect yourself
3. Respect others
4. Protect others
5. Respect intellectual property
6. Protect intellectual property”

Perhaps the last word belongs to a group of Australian school students who have created an anti-cyberbullying project of their own known as “The Invisible Hearts”.

- Mylee Joseph

Mylee is a Consultant for Public Library Services at the State Library of New South Wales


  1. I LOVE the Invisible Hearts Project, what a beautiful message

  2. That is a brilliant post!Alia,you are provides very useful idea via this great article.Thanks for this.

    Facebook for Kids