It is no news that everything that you do online stays there. People can trace it back to you. This is a part of what we call the digital footprint. Your online footprint is a bit complicated. It is like leaving little pieces of information about yourself in the online world which is both interesting and creepy at the same time. Sometimes, you share this information on purpose like when you are playing an online game or about to do a social media test or when you have to sign up for different websites. But, sometimes you leave information about yourself unintentionally such as when you buy something from an online store. Companies store that information and maintain their customer database according to buying habits.
Whether we want it or not, we daily contribute to our online portrait. It is more public than we can imagine. So, it is important to know about the kind of digital footprints you are leaving behind and their possible consequences. Digital footprint, online reputation or digital tattoo – no matter what you say it is, online presence is too important a term to ignore and yet, it is not discussed as much in our homes or classrooms.
Your Child’s Online Presence:
Children today are prolific users of the digital world that raises concerns regarding the digital footprints they are generating. Internet safety is a popular topic for discussion but, there is not much information about how children should manage their digital footprints.
Youngsters are taught and reminded repeatedly that the things they do or say online, won’t go away. We focus more on the downsides of having a permanent digital footprint which anyone can access. Your child’s online presence could be as valuable as it could be destructive.
Your children might know it already that inappropriate comments or photos on social media could largely ruin their chances of getting into a reputable university or job. So, apart from teaching them only about safe internet use, teach your children how they can create a positive digital footprint so that they can benefit from it in the future.
Many consider digital footprints as a liability but, when managed well, they could serve as an asset as well. Digital footprints help in showcasing identity, interests, and skills. Nowadays, even employers google their candidates to verify their identities and to check if they are suitable for the job. So, having no digital footprint can be a disadvantage same as not having a well-managed one.
Teaching kids how to leave positive digital footprints:
First and foremost, parents should teach children about curating their online presence. Curation means having the correct knowledge of what should remain private and what should be displayed publicly. Children should know that they don’t have to hide everything that they do online.
There is no harm in keeping that information public that demonstrates a child’s interest, achievements, and skills. These can include pieces of writing, award, school projects, and digital artworks. When you teach your children how they can curate their achievements and skill along with some aspects of their digital identity, this can assist them in preparing for the greater online freedom they will have when they enter high school.
Here are some tips:
- “Think before sharing” is not a new precaution but it is one of the most important things to do if you want to take care of your digital footprint. Be careful of what you send or post online. Apart from replying back to nasty or hateful comments, teach your children how that would reflect on their online presence. Does their online persona aptly defines how they would like others to see them?
- If your child is working hard to have a positive digital footprint, both you and your child could check regularly to ensure that it says well. They can Google their name or see their profile or activity from another profile or someone else’s point of view.
- If you have no control over what you share, it is hard to keep up a positive online presence. You have to be cautious and conscious of your safety. Teach your child to use good passwords and keep them private to prevent others from getting access to their accounts.
Remind your child that their digital footprint is not just what they share but what others say about them as well. As a parent, keep this in mind regarding your own posts, too.
When should you begin?
The two final years of primary school is the ideal time for children to learn about positive digital footprints. Children are getting creative and learning the productive uses of social media and the internet while moving from games and watching videos. Their internet usage is increasing and they were not aware of the significance of having a positive digital footprint previously.
For children, digital footprints can both be an asset or a liability. When you guide your children in creating a positive online presence, it could go a long way to help them mold their future in the long run.