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digital citizenship

Building Digital Citizenship among Employees

By Sep Barkhodaee
Published on September 5, 2013

Web apps, like the SkyPrep app and online training software have become more and more abundant in recent years. The rise of so-called Web 2.0 applications and the expanding access of individuals to e-commerce and other internet service has increased the prevalence and dissemination of private information. Along with raising security concerns, this shift has also made the issue of digital citizenship more pressing than ever.
Digital citizenship refers to the way we interact and comport ourselves on the web. It involves the communication activities of individuals in online environments, including blogging, creating online profiles, uploading images, commenting on posts, participating in forums – even the websites and files someone visits and downloads reflect their ability to practice digital citizenship.


Until recently, most efforts directed at promoting good digital citizenship have been reactive and disciplinary. They have taken the form of web filters, firewalls and reprimands. However, there are some important lessons employers can learn from current efforts to promote positive digital citizenship among young people in schools. Safeguard privacy and individual reputations is just as pressing for adults as it is for young people. Digital citizenship should be a real concern for both employees and employers alike. Employees are spokespeople for the organization, whether directly or indirectly. When something is posted online it is permanent and public and can reflect on both the employee that posted it and the organizations they represent. The last thing an organization wants is discontent or employee conflicts spilling out onto the digital streets of the Internet. Employees need to understand digital citizenship for their sake and that of their employers.


But how do you broach the subject? It’s a delicate conversation where the employer needs to maintain a balance between expressing their message and respecting their employees right to a personal life. Try explaining it in terms of outcomes and perceptions.


 1 – Remind them that by passing the concerns along to organizations through the proper channels it will be more likely that they will be addressed. Facebook friends and twitter followers aren’t in a position to make things better. Managers are.

2 – Develop an anonymous digital suggestion and feedback process to keep staff concerns inside the organization. Think of it as the 21st century version of the employee suggestion box using the latest technology to provide timely feedback.

3 – Remind staff that it is as much about protecting their own privacy, as it is about protecting the organization. Everything they post online stays there forever. Something they post in a moment of frustration may be on the Internet forever for other employers to find.


Most importantly, organizations need to give employees a chance to practice good digital citizenships. Integrate a genuine and open feedback module into training programs. Ask your employees to participate on policy development through digital forums. Sponsor interest groups to build employee moral and engagement. This gives them the chance to practice posting and exchanging information in a professional and appropriate manner. This experience will guide their online conduct in other fields keeping the organization and their employees in good standing. When it comes to digital citizenship, practice makes perfect.

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