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DQ 101: Digital Identity

Person using laptop in the dark

As one of eight critical areas of “Digital Life,” Digital Identity explores how people build, maintain and explore their digital personas in an increasingly tech-driven world.

Identity, Use, Safety, Security, Emotional Intelligence, Communication, Literacy and Rights.

These areas make up a framework that maps one’s Digital Intelligence (DQ), and therefore helps shed light on how well equipped someone is to participate (and thrive) in a digital economy and society. Here you’ll learn what each area is and why it’s important, applicable, and meaningful through the lens of three levels of Digital Maturity:

  • Digital Citizen: focuses on basic levels of skills needed to use technologies in responsible, safe, and ethical ways.
  • Digital Creator: allows problem-solving through the creation of new knowledge, technologies, and content.
  • Digital Competitor: focuses on innovations to change communities and the economy for broad benefit.

At the intersection of maturities and focus areas, we find 24 competencies (knowledge, skills, attitudes) needed to thrive in an increasingly tech-driven world. In this article, we take a deep dive into each DQ area and its corresponding competencies – starting with one’s Digital Identity. Let’s get started!

Area #1: Digital Identity

Let’s go back to basics for a moment. The word “identity” means who you are, how you think of yourself, the way the world sees you, and the characteristics that define you as a person.

Now, think of how this plays out in a digital environment. How are you present online and how do you present yourself?

From social media and dating websites, to gaming and chat rooms, how is our sense of identity influenced by the digital world? Are we aware of the impact this digital environment can have on our self-image and values?

It’s clear that we need a Digital Identity to interact, connect and co-exist with technology — but we also need constant consideration for safety and integrity. Whether it’s your username, email, social media handle or public profile, our identity is shaped by the way we interact with the digital environment.

Since our digital environments are ever-evolving, we need to constantly invest in ever-evolving skills to keep up. As technology continues to shape our daily lives, our digital identities become increasingly complex.

So how does Digital Identity manifest at each maturity level? Below we list the three competencies areas (knowledge, skills, attitudes) as they evolve as one’s Digital Identity DQ matures:

Level 1 (Citizen) = Digital Citizen Identity

This is a person’s ability to build and manage a healthy identity as a digital citizen with integrity.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands basic vocabulary to discuss the media landscapes they use, including the social and multicultural nature of technology
    • Knows the professional consequences of personal use of digital media
    • Aware of the impact idealized body images, gender and racial stereotypes may have on self-image or values
  • Skills:
    • Demonstrates ethical and considerate behaviors when using technology with different audiences to control and shape one’s Digital Identity
    • Curates an online identity to tell stories while engaging others across various cultures
    • Fosters global awareness by being non-discriminatory and sensitive to other cultures
  • Attitudes:
    • Shows integrity and honesty in both online and offline behaviours
    • Demonstrates self-efficacy by finding ways to take advantage of online opportunities

Level 2 (Creator) = Digital Co-Creator Identity

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands how to keep up with advancements in information and communications technologies
    • Knows how to integrate digital technologies into everyday life in a way that’s productive — not disruptive
    • Open to experimenting with new technology, while being aware of when to reject new technology
    • Seeks out co-creation opportunities for new models of products or services
  • Skills:
    • Able to explore and recognize present-day problems and issues
    • Demonstrates higher order thinking and reasoning skills to further aid the capacity to connect with others
    • Builds on existing ideas to further co-develop new ideas to solve problems with technology
    • Constant generation of new ideas to solve issues with efficiency
  • Attitudes:
    • Express self-motivation and resourcefulness when using technology
    • Takes initiative by knowing when and how to deploy and manage time, efforts and resources

Level 3 (Competitor) = Digital Changemaker Identity

This is a person’s ability to identify and develop oneself as a competent changemaker in the digital economy.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands general and emerging trends in digital environments
    • Knows how technology shapes — and is shaped by — globalization and independent networks
    • Sees the need to recognize emerging problems that technology can create and address
    • Identifies and evaluates innovative business or social impact opportunities provided by advances in technology
  • Skills:
    • Demonstrates higher order thinking skills by extending thinking beyond the individual scale to integrate networks and tools to respond to broader social and economic issues
    • Monitors and integrates emerging tech trends and developments
    • Structures data gathering to identify new and emerging tech products and services, and evaluates the potential value to businesses
    • Equipped to manage and complete projects that address global issues
    • Develops strategies for sustainability and profitability
  • Attitudes:
    • Shows professionalism, self-worth, curiosity and awareness of existing gaps in their own digital competencies with evolving technologies
    • Comfortable with exploring and exploiting technology for self-development and further business growth

These three sub-competencies give us a strong foundation to build as individuals, experts and organizations continue to navigate their ever-evolving Digital Identities.


What’s your Digital Identity maturity level, and what does this say about your DQ?

Stay tuned for the next segment of our DQ 101 series: Digital Use (the ability to use technology in a balanced, healthy, and civic way).

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