Also referred to as your online reputation, your Digital Footprint represents your interaction with technology. Every time an image, video or comments are posted, it impacts your digital footprint. People are perceived, the lives that they are living online. Presently children are posting images and information about themselves, at a younger and younger age. By the time a child is a teenager, much of the content they have created, will have well forgotten about. Think about your own activity online. Did you have a Social Media Account like MySpace or Bebo account? Can you remember every post that you created? What if someone was to judge you on content from 15 years ago?
Posting Harmful Content
The problem today is, a negative digital footprint can have disastrous implications for a any person. While children and teens do spend considerable time online, they can act and behave in ways that they never would in the real world. There is a complete disconnect between the real and online world. We see teens post inappropriate images of themselves and others. Children, teens and adults Cyberbully others online. We see some declare an open interest in crime or drugs, often without realising the real world implications for posting this content. Both adults and children have fallen victim to being reckless online. Adults are lose jobs. Children and teens are suspended and expelled almost daily, from schools and colleges due to content being put online.
The problem with having a Negative Digital Footprint
Many third level institutions and employers have their own Social Media and Online Acceptable Use Policy. When students apply for colleges or employment, people look in to the online lives of applicants. This obviously will give a far better indication of the character of an individual, than a traditional C.V. However, the real world individual and the online persona with a negative digital footprint can be completely different. The unfortunate truth is the online persona can really negatively impact the real world persons prospective chances for college and employment.
Both parents and children need to understand the importance of their own Digital Footprint. It can be forever. The permanence of the Digital World may result in information generated, can be extremely difficult to remove. This may have seriously long-lasting ramifications.
Advice for Parents
- Parents need to be good role models for their children. They should not see parents posting their own every move online.
- Parents need to teach the importance of Personal Information and Privacy to their children
- Parents need to monitor their children’s Digital Footprint regularly
- Patents need to have a conversation about what is online. Sit down and search for your child online. Check the results. If negative content is appearing, where possible take it down or delete it
- Parents and Children need to understand the concept of Think before you Share. It helps to have a better concept of the implications and far-reaching effects of posting harmful or negative content
- Even with the most secure of privacy settings, nothing can be considered truly private if you put it online. The terms and conditions everyone generally just click “ACCEPT” on, can result in content accessed by Third Parties without the account holders realising. If you post it, you give away all control of it.
- Parents should teach children, the comments and posts of others can also negatively impact on them. Ensure permission needs to be given, before you or your child can be tagged in a post. Online reputation is important, care should be taken about what is posted about others you or your child online also.