10 Things That Define Exemplary Digital Communication for Everyone

by | Oct 11, 2017

Mastering digital communication is much more than just about being safe and courteous online. It’s also part of being a great Global Digital Citizen—the kind of citizen we must begin cultivating in our schools.

At the Global Digital Citizen Foundation, we believe the role of an effective digital communicator is to show courtesy, integrity, and respectability in all forms of technology-based interactions and associations. Moreover, their role is also to model this behaviour for the rest of us.


It makes sense to cultivate our learners to become such empowered individuals that are aware of their responsibility both for and with the power of the Internet, for the lasting well-being of our global community. Moving forward, then, how can we help them realize the meaning of a truly exemplary digital communication? What does such a practice look like in action?


The following is an excerpt from our latest book Growing Global Digital Citizens, regarding the 10 principles that define effective digital communication practices:

A difficulty many schools experience in determining when they have a responsibility to get involved is that sometimes it is hard to describe what constitutes a harmful digital communication. Without guidance, it can be hard to develop an understanding of the complexity and seriousness of the actions. Several countries have created legislation regarding such communications.

In New Zealand, the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 provides a useful framework to help build definitions and other frameworks. The framework is a series of ten principles that define what acceptable digital communications should be.

Principle 1: A digital communication should not disclose sensitive personal facts about an individual.

Principle 2: A digital communication should not be threatening, intimidating, or menacing.

Principle 3: A digital communication should not be grossly offensive to a reasonable person in the position of the affected individual.

Principle 4: A digital communication should not be indecent or obscene.

Principle 5: A digital communication should not be used to harass an individual.

Principle 6: A digital communication should not make a false allegation.

Principle 7: A digital communication should not contain a matter that is published in breach of confidence.

Principle 8: A digital communication should not incite or encourage anyone to send a message to an individual for the purpose of causing harm to the individual.

Principle 9: A digital communication should not incite or encourage an individual to commit suicide.

Principle 10: A digital communication should not denigrate an individual by reason of his or her colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

(From the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015, section 6, pp. 5–6)

We’ve made it easy for you to share these 10 digital communication principles with colleagues and learners using the handy infographic below.


Now that you know what makes up an exemplary digital communication, you can guide your learners to really start paying attention to how they interact online. Encourage them to internalize these important principles and refer back to them as often as needed. It’s a giant step towards growing great Global Digital Citizens.




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