Your Digital Footprint: A Giant Leap in the Right Direction?

The most important steps for our country were (arguably) the steps taken by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin when they landed on the moon in July of 1969. The footprints left that day are a source of pride for our country. They are something that Americans look back on with a smile and a strong sense of nationality and self. These steps are considered “one giant leap for mankind.”

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(Photo CC: Flickr.com)

Are your steps creating the same atmosphere for you?

No, I’m not talking about the steps you take to try to reach your Fitbit step count. I’m also not talking about the steps you take to the fridge too many times a day (guilty). I’m talking about the steps you take online; I’m talking about the digital footprint you leave behind.

We all have a digital footprint. Good or not, it’s out there for the world to see. Many different key ingredients are put together to create this footprint. From posts on social media to articles posted in newspapers, there are many different things to look at online about yourself. Are the things you’ve posted items that you are proud of, or are you ashamed to think of a future employer finding them?

Living an online life has always been an interesting thought to me. My parents and teachers stressed the fact that even if your account is private, it doesn’t necessarily mean that adults couldn’t find it. I know that many of my friends shook this idea off as if it didn’t matter. Twitter and Facebook were spaces of privacy. Stating this now, I can see how wrong that thought is.

Kids spend hours online each day. HOURS. How crazy is that? I am guilty of spending way too much time on my cell phone and laptop as well, but the statistics just don’t seem right until you actually think about how much time is truly spent online. This Teach Thought post states that young people “spend around 3 hours online and use cell phones 80% of the time.” No wonder cyberbullying and inappropriate posts have become such an issue.

Inappropriate posts are everywhere. From Twitter to Facebook to Snapchat, I think we’ve all seen our fair share of inappropriate content floating around. And you know what? So have students. It’s silly to think that kids can’t get their hands on inappropriate content; do you go looking for it, or does it sometimes just show up on your feed as you scroll? This being said, we cannot cut them off from technology completely. This would be a step in the wrong direction. Instead, we have to teach them how to use these sites the right way. I see plenty of students posting inappropriate content online on a daily basis, and this is certainly a problem. Will Richardson’s Learning Network post titled Who Are You Online? has a quote in it that I especially like: “I actually think we should make it an expressed outcome from high school that all of our students are Googled well, under their full name, on graduation day.” We must stress to students the fact that what is posted online will follow them throughout their lives. Juan Enriquez drops this truth bomb on his TED Talk listeners. What is posted is, essentially, an electronic tattoo that can be wonderful or a giant, big mistake that will haunt them. (Seriously. Watch this video; it’s amazing.)

Cyberbullying is, unfortunately common in today’s world. According to The New York Time’s article Dealing With Digital Cruelty, “69 percent of adult social media users said they ‘have seen people being mean and cruel to others on social network sites.’” With so much access to the Internet, kids and adults both have an even greater possibility to be judged, harassed, and mistreated. According to Teach Thought’s post titled 7 Ways to Prevent Cyberbullying, 70% of children admit they have witnessed cyberbullying. It’s not always violent; sometimes it’s little jabs that go too far. Stop for a moment and think. Is this the type of footprint you want to leave? Do you want future employers to Google you and have vicious comments you have made appear? Students, this is huge. It may not seem like it today, but that tweet you just sent out can be found years down the road. Would you want your grandma to read it?

As teachers, we have a big task ahead of us. Teaching kids about digital citizenship is no small task. But, it’s an important one that must be done. We want to see students behaving online in a way that parents and grandparents would deem as appropriate and, since they spend a good portion of their time in our classrooms, a piece of that task falls on us. However, I think it’s also important to realize that slip-ups are bound to happen; no one is perfect. I think it’s our job to educate our students to know when a mistake happens so that they don’t let it become a habit. Also, it’s our job to be role models. Let’s be leaders and have an excellent reputation in our online spaces. You never know who could be looking.

So, how are you behaving online? Are your posts positive? Or are they degrading to others, causing harm? What does your digital footprint look like?

I hope it’s one giant leap in the right direction for you.

Best,

Regan

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4 thoughts on “Your Digital Footprint: A Giant Leap in the Right Direction?

  1. Regan,
    You are right. There is so much crap on the internet now that people post. And those statistics are pretty easy for me to believe I’m afraid as every time i turn around i see kids and even adults on their phones; even during a conversation or while eating. That is something i am completely against is phones at the dinner table when family time should be taking place. But then again, how many kids these days actually spend family time their parents anymore, it’s pretty sad. You are right in the fact that we as teachers have a duty to not only educate youth abut how to use different types of technology, but also how to use it appropriately and with consideration and respect towards themselves and others.
    Skyler

    Like

    1. Thanks for the read, Skyler! It’s just craziness honestly. Phones are so important to have, but there is certainly a time when they need to be put away. I think that as our society advances even further with technology our job of teaching about digital citizenship is increasingly important.

      Like

  2. I think it’s funny how now, when we wonder what we’re leaving behind, we aren’t just talking about a car or a journal. When we look back there is a digital imprint as well as our physical one.
    I’m not studying digital literacy from the perspective of a future teacher, but I can apply what you talked about to my role as a parent. It’s a large responsibility. Great post!

    Like

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