Digital citizen

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A digital citizen refers to a person utilizing/using information technology (IT) in order to engage in society, politics, and government participation. K. Mossberger, et al.[1] define digital citizens as "those who use the Internet regularly and effectively." In qualifying as a digital citizen, a person generally must have extensive skills, knowledge, and access of using the Internet through computers, mobile phones, and web-ready devices to interact with private and public organizations. (These factors naturally preclude many from becoming fully realized as ‘digital citizens’ such as people who are illiterate and those who have no viable way of accessing the Internet).

People characterizing themselves as digital citizens often use IT extensively, creating blogs, using social networks, and participating in web journalism sites.[2] Although digital citizenship potentially begins when any child, teen, and/or adult signs up for an email address, posts pictures online, uses e-commerce to buy merchandise online, and/or participates in any electronic function that is B2C or B2B, the process of becoming a digital citizen goes beyond simple Internet activity. In the framework of T.H. Marshall’s perspective on citizenship’s three traditions (liberalism, republicanism, and ascriptive hierarchy), digital citizenry can occur alongside the promotion of equal economic opportunity, as well as increased political participation and civic duty.[3] Digital citizenship eliminates exclusionary elements of ascriptive hierarchy in that the Internet does not exclude those wish to participate in its realm based on race, religion, or class – elements previously used to exclude people from even becoming traditional citizens.

Highly developed states possess the capacity to link their respective governments with digital sites. Such sites function in ways such as illuminating recent legislation, educating current and future policy objectives, lending agency toward political candidates, and allowing citizens to voice themselves in a political way. Likewise, the generation of these sites has been linked to increased voting advocacy.[4] Lack of access toward becoming a digital citizen can be a serious drawback, since many elementary procedures such as tax reports filing, birth registration, and use of Web sites to support candidates in political campaigns (E-democracy) etc. have been transferred to only be available via the Internet. Furthermore, many cultural and commercial entities only publicize information on web pages. Non-digital citizens will not be able to retrieve this information and this may lead to social isolation or economic stagnation. The gap between digital citizens and non-digital citizens is often referred to as the digital divide. Currently, the digital divide is a subject of academic debate as access to the Internet has increased, but the place in which the Internet is accessed (work, home, public library, etc.) has a significant effect on how such access will be utilized, if even in a manner related to citizenry. Recent scholarship has correlated the desire to be technologically proficient with greater belief in computer access equity, and thus, digital citizenship (Shelley, et al.).

In developing countries digital citizens are sparser. They consist of the people in such countries who utilize technology to overcome their localized obstacles including development issues, corruption, and even military conflict. An examples of such citizens are African nationals using mobile phones where landlines and infrastructure are weak, political activists in the Middle-East such as during the Egyptian Revolution.[5]

Participation[edit]

The development of digital citizen participation can be divided into two main stages: information dissemination and citizen deliberation.[6]

Information Dissemination

Brian And Alan: Static information Dissemination is based on read-only web sites including Information Portal Sites and Links to Related Web Sites.

Dynamic: As dynamic information dissemination means active Two-way communication and consultant services it includes the acquisition of information by E-Mail requests (question-answer dialogue), Newsletters or Newsgroups and E-mail lists.

Citizen Deliberation

Static: Usually, Static Deliberation includes the following kinds of participation Online Poll, Bulletin Board (for both complaints and recommendations). Example: “Dorris recalls that during the unprecedented weeklong federal government shutdown from a blizzard in the Washington, D.C., area in 2010, the Web manager group collaborated to use its websites and the GSA-owned portal, USA.gov, to inform citizens about which federal offices were closed and which were still operating”.[7]

Dynamic: Dynamic Deliberation takes place in the public sphere for example Digital Forums, Online Voting with Deliberation.

Mike Ribble runs a website dedicated to describing digital citizenship in all its meaning. Through his teachings at the high school and university graduate level, and through the culmination of a dissertation specifically engaged with digital citizenry, he has compiled a list of nine elements comprising digital citizenship, including digital: access, commerce, communication, literacy, etiquette, law, rights and responsibilities, health and wellness, and security. (http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Home_Page.html).

Engagement of youth[edit]

A recent survey revealed that teenager and young adults spend more time on the Internet than watching TV.[8] Digital youth can be generally viewed as the test market for the next generation’s digital content and services. Sites such as MySpace and Facebook have come to the fore in sites where youth participate and engage with others on the Internet. Vast amounts of money are spent annually to research the demographic by hiring psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists in order to discover habits, values and fields of interest[9] Particularly in the United States, “Social media use has become so pervasive in the lives of American teens that having a presence on a social network is almost synonymous with being online; 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online and 80% of those online teens are users of social media sites”.[10] However, movements such as these appear to benefit strictly those wishing to advocate for their business towards youth. The critical time when young people are developing their civic identities is between the ages 15–22. During this time they develop three attributes: civic literacy, civic skills and civic attachment that comprise civic engagement later reflected in political actions of their adult lives.[11][12]

An open Internet as delegated by a state’s government is necessary to instill a sense of trust, legitimacy, and participation in the state’s citizenry. WikiLeaks represents an occurrence where particular political actors have criticized and taken citizen action toward revealing the government’s unnecessary clandestine activity online. “The benefit of transparency isn’t just catching red-handed bastards. It’s also about collaborating and coming together with a more engaged citizenry.” [13] The Internet is a reading-intensive medium that may challenge full access and participation to youth. For youth to fully participate and realize their presence on the Internet, a quality level of reading comprehension is required. “The average government Web site, for examples, requires an eleventh-grade level of reading comprehension, even though about half of the U.S. population reads at an eighth-grade level or lower”.[14] So despite the Internet being a place irrespective of certain factors such as race, religion, and class, education plays a large part in a person’s capacity to present themselves online in a formal manner conducive towards their citizenry. Concurrently, education also affects people’s motivation to participate online.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mossberger, Karen. "Digital Citizenship. the Internet.society and Participation By Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal." Scribd. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/13853600/Digital-Citizenship-the-Internetsociety-and-Participation-By-Karen-Mossberger-Caroline-J-Tolbert-and-Ramona-S-McNeal>.
  2. ^ BBC News: "Are you a digital citizen?"
  3. ^ 8. Marshall, T. H. 1992. The Problem Stated with the Assistance of Alfred Marshall [originally delivered in 1949]. In Citizenship and Social Class, T. H. Marshall and T. Bottomore, 3–51. London: Pluto Perspectives.
  4. ^ Mossberger, Karen. "Digital Citizenship. the Internet.society and Participation By Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal." Scribd. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/13853600/Digital-Citizenship-the-Internetsociety-and-Participation-By-Karen-Mossberger-Caroline-J-Tolbert-and-Ramona-S-McNeal>.
  5. ^ usatoday.com on cell phones as banks. Linked 16/12 2008
  6. ^ Restoring Trust in Government: The Potential of Digital Citizen Participation http://www.businessofgovernment.org/pdfs/HolzerReport.pdf
  7. ^ Cacas, Max. "Spinning a Wide Web for Digital Citizen Services - SIGNAL Magazine." Web. 23 Nov. 2011. <http://www.afcea.org/signal/articles/templates/Signal_Article_Template.asp?articleid=2781>.
  8. ^ "Youth Spend More Time on Web than TV:Study", Reuters, 24 July 2003, http://www.forbes.com/technology/newswire/2003/07/24/rtr1037488.html (4 Dec. 2003)
  9. ^ Youth as E-Citizens: Engaging the Digital Generation http://dspace.wrlc.org/bitstream/1961/4649/1/youthreport.pdf
  10. ^ "How American Teens Navigate the New World of "digital Citizenship" | Pew Internet & American Life Project." Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. <http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Teens-and-social-media/Summary/Findings.aspx>.
  11. ^ Delli Carpini, The Youth Engagement Initiative Strategy Paper, 10 Educational leaders today are preparing the educational system "American education from pre-K to 12 and beyond to better prepare students to thrive in the global economy." Today's youth needs to be exposed and prepared for the world they will be living in.
  12. ^ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1568480,00.html
  13. ^ http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/Internet+pushing+governments+more+open+digital+expert+says/5736026/story.html
  14. ^ 7. Mossberger, Karen. "Digital Citizenship. the Internet.society and Participation By Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal." Scribd. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/13853600/Digital-Citizenship-the-Internetsociety-and-Participation-By-Karen-Mossberger-Caroline-J-Tolbert-and-Ramona-S-McNeal>.