Digital citizenship and netiquette in our online world

Mike Ribble defines digital citizenship as “the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use” (2013). Just like community, national and global citizenship, digital citizenship requires a sense of responsibility and care for yourself and for others in your digital community. These are not necessarily skills we are born with. They are often skills that must be taught and continually reinforced over time. This is what happens as parents and others involved in a child’s life instill morals and ethics in that child. When new technologies come up we often have to teach ourselves or help each other learn the ropes and how to navigate this new landscape. Are the rules and guidelines the same as when we step out of the digital world? Is there a new set of morals that need to be followed? There are any number of websites and online tutorials available to answer these questions. One of those websites is the digital citizenship page of

The nisd page follows Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship grouped into three groups similar to his REPs model. The groups are: School environment and Student Behavior (digital rights and responsibilities, digital communication, digital access, digital etiquette, digital security), Student Learning and Academic Performance (digital literacy, digital law), and Student Life Outside the School Environment (digital health and wellness, digital commerce). While this site is primarily made for K-12 educators, there are lesson plans, activities and ideas that can certainly be modified for use with adult learners. They will also be able to take many of these activities and videos back to their families and show them to their children thereby paying their learning forward.  Whether my students are in my class or out in public taking care of their daily business they will have to learn how to handle their digital lives just as they do their offline lives so incorporating the nisd lesson plans into our everyday technological learning will help to make it a seamless transition and give us all the skills necessary to take that learning back to our families.

Just as we have rules of etiquette that we follow as responsible and polite individuals in the offline world, we must also follow rules of etiquette online. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines netiquette as “etiquette governing communication on the Internet”. In most cases this includes following an online version of the Golden Rule: Do unto others online as you would have done unto you. Following good netiquette will help you become a good digital citizen and like digital citizenship there are any number of websites that give a student somewhere to start.  The following websites are good places to start:, and Each of these sites offers something different to the educator and the learner and takes the netiquette discussion in a different direction. Yet each is an excellent source of information. The Colorado State University page borrows the core rules from Virginia Shea’s 1994 book entitled Netiquette. Looking at these 10 rules learners will be reminded that everything starts with remembering there is another human being at the other end of any online communication. That is one of the most important things that can be taught about following good netiquette as good digital citizens. The rules listed on the Colorado State page are similar to those found on the website, yet the list makes learning the information fun and entertaining and reminds the learner that it is important to use emoticons in order to convey emotions that are otherwise difficult to recognize in written communication. The network etiquette page employs the most entertainment value in order to get the necessity for good netiquette across to those viewing the website. It also defines netiquette by domain making it easy for the learner to understand what is most important in that domain. It even includes an online education definition that is very helpful for those of us who are looking to teach online. What makes this website even more interesting and fun is the netiquette videos that are included. All of these websites are places I would go to share netiquette information with my students and the videos on the network etiquette page will help break the ice and make it a fun topic to discuss. Each page will also create a space where dialogue and learning can take place regarding what is different between one area and another and how culture and domain might change the rules.

Netiquette. (n.d.).  In Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. Retrieved from

Ribble, M. (2013). Nine elements: Nine themes of digital citizenship. Retrieved from

6 thoughts on “Digital citizenship and netiquette in our online world

  1. The most important line that you wrote, in my opinion, is that you have to remember there is a human being reading what you wrote and people can mis read, mis understand, see things from a different viewpoint but the honesty is most important. I do know that when I write I try to be honest, and not a hypocrit.

    1. Hello Erica:
      Your post hit its target. In our society, people are not always sensitive to the feelings of others and some use the internet as a voice to let off steam, crucify others and are intolerant of others. Etiquette is not limited to social behavior, but, it includes behavior online too. Look at the instances of bullying online. It has to stop and people must become aware of what they speak and wrote especially online. Once it is posted it cannot be retrieved. We must keep this on the minds of the adult learners we teach.

      Great explanations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


      1. Dennie, as you said “once it is posted it cannot be retrieved” just as once it is said it cannot be taken back. The words are out there and they actually can hurt you very much. I agree that bullying of any kind must stop. Cyberbullying is especially insidious because it doesn’t end once the person comes home from school or work. It continues through emails, text messages, social media and brings in people that would not normally be involved in any other instance. This is a very important topic for me and many of my friends to the point that we fight to end it any way we can. This is in part because we remember what it was like to be bullied the old fashioned way and know that no one should feel that way ever.



    2. Thank you Carole. I was raised to pay attention to the human beings in the equation. This hasn’t changed for me simply because the other person is on the other end of a computer or text message. You are right, honesty is truly the best policy when it comes to any human to human connection.

  2. You posted some great resources for netiquette and the personal and professional issues associated. I will be looking into these and hope to utilize information from your sites in the future

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