Information Services

About Digital Safety and Citizenship

Information on what digital safety and citizenship entail and why these issues should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds here at the University of Edinburgh.

Digital Citizenship Guide

For more information on how to be a digital citizen and the responsible use of technology, please refer to our Digital Citizenship Guide, linked below. This guide, available in Microsoft Word and PDF format, includes further information on the following:

  • Why is digital citizenship important?
  • Understanding misconduct
  • Online etiquette and expectations for students
  • Useful resources for further education

Digital Citizenship Guide (Word)

Digital Citizenship Guide (PDF)

The Digital Citizenship Guide should be read alongside the University's Virtual Classroom Policy, which clarifies rights and responsibilities when delivering and recording teaching and learning using online communication and collaboration technologies. This policy covers a number of important areas such as intellectual property, data protection and appropriate use of recordings. It complements the lecture recording policy and is based on the same principles.

What is “digital safety?”

Digital safety is everyone’s business here at the University. You may have come across this term under other names, all of which refer to staying safe online, such as:

  • Internet safety
  • Media safety
  • Online safety
  • Cyber security
  • E-safety

University students engage with multiple digital technologies on a day-to-day basis, but with increased connectivity comes increased risk and it’s important to recognise the myriad threats that you might encounter while engaging online, such as:

  • Online harassment and cyberbullying
  • False information, or “fake news”
  • Phishing schemes
  • Social engineering
  • Online fraud
  • Malware, e.g. ransomware, adware, and viruses

Such digital threats can compromise your privacy, reputation and even physical safety, so it’s important to be critical and cautious in order to safeguard yourself and those around you.

Our Information Security team have put together some helpful resources on what you can do to protect your information, as well as some guidance on good practice. This is especially valuable information if you’re a new student.

Information Security Guidance on Protecting Yourself

What is “digital citizenship?”

Digital citizenship refers to the responsible use of technology to learn, create and participate online. As a member of the University of Edinburgh community it’s your social responsibility to be a good digital citizen, which means treating others with dignity and respect. The following principles are a good place to start:

  1. Use the Golden Rule

How we behave in virtual spaces shouldn’t differ from how we behave in physical spaces. It’s important to act with empathy, compassion and kindness in both your online and offline interactions.

  1. Respect differences

The University prides itself on fostering a truly international community, which means respecting cultural differences and honouring diverse perspectives. If you disagree with someone online, engage thoughtfully and avoid personal attacks.

  1. Pause before posting

The Internet is a place of knowledge exchange, but conversations can get heated. It’s worth pausing for a moment before responding to anything in anger. Avoid posting or sending anything that could hurt someone else, damage someone’s reputation, or threaten either your own safety or the safety of others.

  1. Stand up for yourself and others

If you ever feel unsafe online, tell someone. You can also support others who are targets of online abuse or cruelty by reporting activity that threatens a person's safety and preserving evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behaviour.

Reporting Online Abuse

If you or someone you know has been the victim of online harassment, cyberbullying or hate crime, block the abuser and report the abuse to your internet service provider (ISP), mobile phone provider (if bullying occurs via text/calls), or social media site/app. More information is available via the links below.

Get Safe Online: Information on Online Abuse

Bullying UK: How to deal with cyberbullying

Bullying UK: What to do if you’re being bullied on a social network

Stop Online Abuse: Taking Action

Students’ Association Guidance on Bullying and Harassment

Everyone, everywhere has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. The Edinburgh University Students’ Association offers confidential advice and support for online harassment and hate crime through the Advice Place, a Third Party Reporting site.

Students' Association Guidance on Bullying and Harassment

Reporting Abuse to Police Scotland

Do not engage with the bully but keep upsetting emails, messages and posts as evidence for reporting. Report serious bullying, such as threats of physical harm or violence, to the police.

Police Scotland: Guidance on Internet Safety

Microsoft Digital Civility Index

Microsoft’s Digital Civility Index surveys teens and adults about online behaviour in 23 countries to measure online safety. Find out more about digital citizenship through Microsoft’s Digital Civility Resources and guidelines below.

Microsoft Digital Civility Challenge

Civil actions: How four simple rules can make the internet safer

Safer Internet Day 2019 Resource Guide (PDF download)

Digital Citizenship Begins with You Factsheet (PDF download)

Safer Online Socialising Factsheet (PDF download)


© Victoria Madden, University of Edinburgh, 2021, CC BY-SA 4.0, unless otherwise indicated. The Digital Safety and Citizen resource pages are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike licence, unless otherwise indicated.  For licence permissions of linked resources outwith the university, please check the host website.