Over the summer, I like many of you, spent time at the beach. Walking in the soft sand and playing in the water. The footprints I left were quickly removed by the incoming tide and the sand returned to normal. This is completely the opposite to the internet. I have heard many presenters say that the internet is like an elephant and it never forgets. A digital footprint is any information you leave about yourself online, from comments on social media, pictures and posts to app use, emails and the websites you visit. It is important to be aware of the online trail of footprints you leave on the internet as they may remain there for good. Screen capturing or saving data you think is not permanent is certainly a possibility.
We all on occasion put information about ourselves on the internet. For instance, I have been known to share photos of my pizza oven and its creations. However, children often do not realise the potential for damage that a comment or post can have on their digital footprint. The focus should not be about protecting your footprint from damaging posts and pictures but the opposite –how to promote a positive footprint.
To build a positive digital footprint, consider what you share online. Students need to be aware that at some stage, someone will search for them online. It could be their future employer, teacher, university, or a parent. So how do you create a positive digital footprint?
Make your online presence a positive one
Students should be encouraged to showcase the positive things they do through blogs, images, video and community participation, in a safe secure manner with friends and family. Remember that many social media platforms have age restrictions. For example, to have a Facebook or Instagram account you need to be 13 years old. These restrictions are there to ensure young children that are not ready for the internet are protected. As parents, make sure you know what your children are accessing and add them as friends when they are old enough to start using these platforms to guide them with their use.
Be a good role model
As an adult, demonstrate you are careful about what you do online and how you look after your own digital footprint.
The College’s learner attributes include Self-regulation and in relation to your digital footprint this is knowing when something you want to post online is or is not appropriate. We encourage students to think.