Often referred to as your online reputation, your Digital Footprint represents your interaction with technology. Every time that an image or video is posted, or perhaps a comment is made, it effects your digital footprint. This is a how a person can be perceived in real life, by people viewing 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, many of the posts that they put up they will have well forgotten about. Ask yourselves, did you have a Myspace or Bebo account, can you remember the posts that you as parents posted on those sites. In reality it is very difficult to remember every interaction or comment that you made while online.
The problem today is that a negative digital footprint can have disastrous implications for a young person starting out in life. While they live a lot of their lives online they sometimes act in ways that they never would in the real world. The post inappropriate images of themselves and others. They may Cyberbully others. They may declare an interest in crime or drugs, often without realising the real world implications for their actions. Both adults and children have fallen victim to being reckless online. Adults have lost jobs, children suspended or expelled from schools or colleges.
It is a fact that many third level institutions and employers have their own Social Media policy. When people apply for colleges or employment many background check the Online lives of applicants. This obviously will give a far better indication of the character of an individual than a traditional C.V. Both parents and children need to understand the importance of their own Digital Footprint, it’s permanence online and more importantly the ramifications for having a Negative one as once the information is put up it can be extremely difficult to remove and have seriously long lasting ramifications.
Some 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. They need to sit down and do a search for the child to see what information is returned. If it is negative then they should, where possible take it down or delete it
- Parents and Children need to understand the concept of Think before you Share. Understand the implications and far reaching effects of something before it is posted
- At the end of the day even with the most secure of privacy settings nothing is private on the internet if one single individual can access it. The terms and conditions which everyone generally just click “ACCEPT” on can mean that anything posted may be shared even without the account holders notice. If you post it you give away all control of it.
- Parents should also teach children that the comments of other users can also negatively impact on them as easily as comments that they themselves post about people