Cyber Citizenship

Relatively new terms, "cybercitizenship", "cyber ethics", and "netiquette" refer to responsible cyber social behavior. These terms refer to what people do online when no one else is looking.

Examples and links

It's important to be a good citizen wherever you may find yourself, by following the rules of that place. The Internet is a "place" with its own very special rules. People who communicate over the Internet are called "cybercitizens." It's important to learn the rules of the Internet before you log on, so that you can be a "good cybercitizen."

Learning to be safe and to keep others safe, to be respectful and act appropriately with information online (includes personal privacy issues as well as respect for copyright etc) in an online world is as important to young people nowadays as teaching them the road-code and how to keep safe on the road was a generation ago.

Traveling in the Cyber Community is a lot like traveling in the community you live in. There are rules and responsibilities for both. Both communities contain inappropriate, as well as appropriate places to visit. Just like in the real community, inappropriate places on the Cyber community are unsafe, and should be avoided.

The students coming to our schools may be called 'digital natives' by virtue of the fact that they have been born into and grown up in a world surrounded by digital technologies. But we cannot assume this means that they are automatically prepared as cyber-citizens – any more than we can assume that, having grown up seeing cars travel on our roads that they automatically have any sense of road safety and the road code.

As our kids go online in increasing numbers, cyber ethics is a critical lesson, especially since poor e-habits can start at an early age. A significant challenge for educators in this regard is the fact that it is very difficult (if not impossible) to teach what it means to be a cyber-citizen unless you, as the teacher, have at least some direct experience of the online environment, and the things that are considered responsible cyber-behaviour.


  • Are your school cyber safety policies based on ignorance and fear, or understanding?
  • How are the practices of cyber citizens being modelled in your school?
  • What would be the response of your staff to a breakdown in this area?