The internet makes globalization a rapid process. We are in a constant interaction with the online media and the digital world shapes our everyday life. News and information are spreading fast and people join the online community in order to have a say and a sense of belonging. The digital world provides people with a new, virtual reality and identity. People take their economic, political, social and cultural background of their citizenship, forming a digital citizenship. Those who use the internet regularly and effectively are defined as “digital citizens”.
Our goals are to:
Rudimentary online activism started already in the early 90ies of the last century, with mass emailing campaigns, but it really took its stronghold recently during the last decade. The Internet has become the catalyst for protests such as Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring as those involved have increasingly relied on social media to organize and stay connected.
Opinions are divided as to whether the Internet will increase or decrease political participation, including online activism. Those who suggest political participation will increase believe the Internet can be used to recruit and communicate with more users, and offers lower-costs modes of participation for those who lack the time or motivation to engage otherwise. Those concerned that the Internet will decrease activism argue that the Internet occupies free time that can no longer be spent getting involved in activist groups, or that Internet activism will replace more substantial, effortful forms of in-person activism. We also have to be aware that 60% of the world population is not online, and that some of the virtual revolutions are passing undetected by them.
Digital citizenship is one’s quality of a response to this membership of the digital communities. Digital citizenship contains people’s engagement in politics, society and government online. Through online participation people can have an impact on decision and policy making. Thus, there is an interaction between the real and the digital world. Furthermore, the internet can also facilitate the citizens’ right to vote. Voting online provides an easy and accessible way of expressing yourself. It is also less time consuming and more cost-efficient, boosting civic engagement and participation in politics. It is important to be aware that laws still apply in the digital world, to a different extent. The modification of existing laws to cover digital rights and duties, like intellectual property rights, access or modification to your online data. However, the internet world comes with no physical boundaries and one’s activity can lead to a global citizenship in a vast online environment.
Digital citizenship is not only about safe internet. Active online participation comes with responsibility, mutual respect and understanding. Freedom of expression is guaranteed always within the frame of human rights. In order to be a good digital citizen, one must understand the basic values of individual and collective rights since our digital actions can influence other physical communities. To build a positive community, physical land digital, it is crucial to educate people about the human rights together with the internet usage.
Methods of HRE for the virtual life of young people will be added further as a contribution of those who work on fighting for human rights in the virtual world and believe that human rights online need to be equally respected as human rights in the real world.
If you want to provide your experience and expertise in the fields of human rights and non-formal education and help us develop joint HUB of HRE for the virtual world, go to our CONTRIBUTE section.