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DQ 101: Digital Safety

girl looking on her phone in the dark

Digital Intelligence means staying safe online.

In the Digital Intelligence 101 introduction, we shared that people experience eight critical areas of digital life — Identity, Use, Safety, Security, Emotional Intelligence, Communication, Literacy and Rights. These areas make up a framework mapping one’s Digital Intelligence (DQ).

This article will explore how Digital Safety manifests at each digital maturity level — Citizen, Creator and Competitor (if you need a refresher on these levels, check out our Intro to DQ article).

Area #3: Digital SafetyDigitl Safety

We’ve all heard horror stories about online safety: cyber-attacks stealing personal information, hackers holding private photos hostage for million-dollar ransoms, unwelcome guests popping up in a Zoom call. Perhaps you’ve been victim to a phishing attempt or know someone who has been the target of online bullying.

Beyond these threats — we often forget about less obvious risks like tracking, hidden ads, fake news, racism and discrimination. These online obstacles require an evolved set of safety skills.

Living in a digital world means acting like a good digital citizen and having a keen understanding of the risks that come with living, working, and playing inside a shared digital system. Society has a collective responsibility to make online platforms a safe and healthy place to interact — whether you’re an individual or a major company. Therefore, it is crucial for all of us to think about how we ‘show up’ online — we need to teach and instill digital skills related to ethics and safety.

So — how does Digital Safety apply to each maturity level? Below is a list of three competencies areas (knowledge, skills, attitudes) that evolve as one’s Digital Safety DQ matures:

Level 1 (Citizen) = Behavioural Cyber-Risk Management

This is an individual's ability to identify, manage and reduce cyber-risks that relate to personal use online.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands the different types of cyber-risks including cyberbullying, harassment and stalking
    • Knows how they might come across these risks and realizes how it could affect them
    • Creates strategies to deal with potential cyber-risks
  • Skills:
    • Able to develop technical, socio-cognitive, communication and decision-making skills to address cyber-risks as they happen
    • Understands how to address online risks from the viewpoint of both bystanders and victims
    • Uses coping tools when faced with negative online experiences
  • Attitudes:
    • Demonstrates kindness in online interactions
    • Knows the supportive frameworks in place to address risk
    • Able to manage online behaviour as part of contributing to positive and supportive online communities

Level 2 (Creator) = Content Cyber-Risk Management

This is a Digital Creator’s ability to identify, manage and reduce content related cyber-risks — such as racist, hateful or discriminatory content.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands online risks involved with harmful user-generated content including racisms, hate speech, discriminatory photos
    • Has strategies to deal with online negativity and discrimination
  • Skills:
    • Develops and uses conflict management strategies to reduce risk by avoiding or confronting individuals and groups involved in creating negative content
    • Reports incidents to platform administrators or law enforcement when appropriate
  • Attitudes:
    • Shows resiliency and integrity when faced with content that is hurtful or derogatory
    • Proactively contributes to healthy, open and supportive online communities

Level 3 (Competitor) = Commercial and Community Cyber-Risk Management

This is a Digital Competitor’s ability to understand, manage and reduce commercial or community cyber-risks online. This includes organizational tactics that exploit people financially or emotionally such as embedded marketing, online propaganda or gambling.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands the distinct types of commercial and community cyber-risks and how exposure can impact members of diverse communities and groups of people
    • Shows a deep understanding of legal and ethical issues related to high-level online risks
  • Skills:
    • Familiar with strategies to deal with organizational cyber-risks
    • Identifies and develops tools such as ad blockers and web extensions to reduce and manage exposure to risks to enhance quality of life
    • Detects and reports incidents and identify which groups could be impacted
    • Shares alerts and announcements with stakeholders, along with the solution
    • Manages lifecycle of problems to prevent further issues in the future
  • Attitudes:
    • Shows caution and vigilance when using online platforms
    • Understands where and when strategies for dealing with risks are available
    • Devises creative ways to handle and avoid the dangers associated with cyber-risks

These three sub-competencies are a solid foundation to build on as individuals, experts and organizations continue to explore ways to stay safe while using digital technology. What’s your Digital Safety maturity level, and what does it say about your DQ?

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