Digital Citizenship Week

Part 4 of 5 - Digital Footprints

Welcome to part 4 of the 5 part series on Digital Citizenship! Today's newsletter is dedicated to your Digital Footprints! As always, please preview the lesson to make sure that you are comfortable with the materials before sharing with your students.

Digital Footprints

What is a "Digital Footprint"?

Digital Footprints are the tracks that we leave behind online, whether you mean to leave them or not. This includes which websites we visit, how long we visit them for, where we are when we visit those sites, which accounts we have, personally identifiable information, and much, much more. As scary as all of that is, it's not meant to be. It's just a fact of life. There are, of course, options to mask your identity online, but they are much too advanced to discuss here.

What does need to be discussed is how our ONLINE presence and habits affect our REAL LIFE. Like history, some things online will be forgotten about, and others will go completely unnoticed, but nothing ever really goes away. We need to be extremely careful and judicious about how we choose to represent ourselves, and behave ourselves, online.

Youth and Media - Digital Dossier

"Friends" and Followers

"Friends" and "Followers" lists are some of the most commonly "requested" data by advertisers. When you ask to play a game online (through Facebook, MySpace, etc.), quite often the game will ask for you to share your friends list with them, ask for your real name, address, phone number, email address, and then perhaps even ask you for permission to post online for you.

Hopefully, you will not want to give an online company so much information about you. And I'm sure that you would want your friends not to give out your information. So the question is... how much do you really trust your online "friends"? Do you know all of them personally? Would you share, in person, with them, every bit of information that you're posting to Facebook? If not, why would you post it online?

When it comes to online games/apps, ask yourself: Is there a valid reason why the game I want to play needs to know my friends' names, or needs to know all of this information about me? If not, don't give them access... even if it means that you can't play the game everyone is talking about.

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Copyright is a big part of your digital footprint.

Imagine researching your favorite author, only to find out that they copied all of their work, and never gave credit. How would that make you feel about that author?

Since the internet is a vast database, finding an exact match for something online is really not difficult at all. Unfortunately, a lot of work, media, etc. gets stolen.

Now, when someone is actively looking for YOU online, they can see nearly everything that you've done online. This includes content that you claim to have created, that could very well be plagiarized, or "borrowed" without copyright permission (or with no verification of copyright permission). ALWAYS make sure to cite your sources! If you embed a Creative Commons licensed picture in your work online, make sure to give credit to the original work, like we are doing for the image above (from here).

What does my Digital Footprint say about me?

Your Digital Footprint is your online identity. When someone "Googles" you, they will see results for everything related to you.

You should pay close attention to what you put online because it represents you. Think about the silly face picture of you and your friends... would you want your future boss to see that when they're deciding whether or not to hire you? Would you want a University representative, when deciding admissions, to see your Twitter rant about how slow and rude their admissions person was to you on the phone? Do you think that University would accept you if your admissions essay was plagiarized from an online source? Would you want someone to read screenshots of text messages you've sent privately? Once you send something, it potentially exists online forever.

As time goes on, we will all become more "net savvy". But what you do/post right now, directly impacts your future, because the content never goes away.

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Tips for Building a Positive Digital Footprint

Be careful about the websites you choose to view and use. Be even more careful about the information you put onto those sites.

Only befriend people online that you actually know, and trust in real life. It's ok to deny a friend request, or to save it for a later time when you're more sure.

Follow the Golden Rule online - Treat others the way you want to be treated.

If you don't have something positive to say, it's best to say nothing at all.

Be yourself, but use the internet to create the best possible version of yourself. Use it to highlight your qualities, and none of your detractors.

Don't overshare. Don't be vague. And don't be a downer.

Be positive. Get rid of the negative.

Coming Soon

Up Next:

Preparing for the Future


Curriculum Resources

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