In a recent blog post, Vala Afshar, chief marketing officer for Entersys Networks, suggests businesses could learn a lesson or two from K-12 educators when it comes to teaching their employees about the importance of practicing good Digital Citizenship.
With the introduction of technology into curriculum, educators have faced a dilemma regarding use of the Internet. One on hand, allowing students free access to technology can dramatically enhance learning and creativity. On the other hand, it comes with several potential pitfalls: compromised privacy, copyright infringement, cyber bullying, plagiarism, and exposure to inappropriate content.
The same is true for business, where the ability for employees to safely use email, work remotely, and operate a website is crucial to its success. Unfortunately, when employees have access to the Internet for work purposes, there are serious risks involved. They can download viruses, create legal liabilities, gain unauthorized access to critical information and, potentially, leak it. There is also the potential for considerable time wasting and lost productivity.
Afshar says employees often don’t understand the impact that their digital footprint can have on their company. A post on Facebook or Twitter can be detrimental; confidential data can be exposed on an iPhone; plagiarism of copyrighted material can bring litigation; the list goes on. And as more employees bring their personal mobile devices into the workplace (BYOD), the stakes are going up.
Google “Social Media Blunders” and you find about 1.8 million examples of how companies have been devastated by employee’ missteps online. How would you like to be one of these companies?
You get the idea.
Educators created the concept of Digital Citizenship to address this situation and businesses should follow suit, says Afshar. Writing in The Huffington Post, he offered four quick steps a business can take to encourage good Digital Citizenship by its employees:
Step 1: Remove the fear. Start a Digital Citizenship campaign. Promote and encourage the use of personal social media networks, apps, and devices. It is no longer taboo to visit YouTube or Tweet during work time.
Step 2: Teach the skills. Explain piracy. Show safe ways to purchase online. Demonstrate how to upload images without including the EXIF or geo-location data.
Step 3: Highlight the positive outcomes from employees’ personal participation. Remove the concept of personal versus professional use of our digital footprint and substitute appropriate versus inappropriate use. The old model simply doesn’t fit any more. Wake up business leaders.
Step 4: If something negative happens, don’t jump to create a new policy or block a website. Make a decision based on the person’s action, not about the technology. Never look for a technology solution for a non-technology problem.