Information Services

Definitions and Background

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.

What is “digital safety?”

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

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”
  • Online fraud and scams (e.g. phishing and social engineering)
  • 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. In the following video, Dr. Vicki Madden, Digital Safety Support Officer in the Digital Skills and Training team at the University of Edinburgh, explains the concept of digital citizenship in more detail. 

Video: What is digital citizenship?
Dr. Vicki Madden, Digital Safety Support Officer in the Digital Skills and Training team, explains the concept of Digital Citizenship.

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 (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.

Police Scotland and Cyber Scotland Advice

In an effort to tackle the rise in internet-related crime, Police Scotland are promoting the following advice in partnership with Cyber Scotland and Get Safe Online. Please help spread the word and keep our community safe by signposting to the following resources where you can. The leaflets below contain helpful information on online financial transactions and digital identity and responsibility, among other important topics.

Get Safe Online: Your top tips for keeping safe online (PDF)

Get Safe Online: Your top student online safety tips (PDF)

Reporting Abuse to Police Scotland

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

Police Scotland: Guidance on Internet Safety

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


© Victoria Madden, University of Edinburgh, 2022, 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.