How Are Digital Footprints Formed?
An elephant never forgets. That’s what we’ve heard growing up. Forget that, the new order of the digital world is, anything that’s ever posted on the internet will never go away. And that’s the unerasable power of the world wide web.
Your digital footprint can—and is—seen by people around the world…people you know and people you don’t know. Colleges and employers are all increasingly checking prospective students online history. And digital footprints are not like the ones we make in sand. Once the water washes over our footprints in sand, they are gone forever. But, not anything you put out there in the world of the internet.
So, before you post anything, think once, twice and again. Let’s look at what makes up our digital footprints?
What web sites do you visit?
What photos and videos do you post online?
What links do you share?
What are you “tagged” in online?
What messages (e-mails, texts, social media) do you send?
What online games and quizzes do you play?
What things do you buy online?
What advertisements do you visit?
What YouTube videos do you watch?
How To Leave Good Footprints?
One thing we can all agree on is that the comments sections on sites like YouTube or Yelp are the septic tanks of our society. And there’s a law that enables this septic tank to flourish!
“If I write something malicious on the internet, it’s my fault, and not the website’s fault.” Sounds strange, right? That a Big Tech company behind the website or app has no accountability to manage content that’s being put into their system by its users?
So, we cannot put the onus on any third party app to keep us accountable to our words on the internet. In a space like the online world, where we’re all strangers to each other, is exactly where we must engage with each other with humanity.
1. Be Kind
2. Try to instill a sense of empathy in your kids. Remember: there’s someone else on the other side of the screen.
3. Post constructive comments, and avoid getting into flame wars with trolls. Ask: What kind of positive behavior do you see online?
4. Keep Private Things Private. Don’t Overshare.
5. Talk about what’s OK for kids to share online and what’s not.
6. Don’t broadcast your location, send photos to strangers, or share passwords with friends. 7. Ask: What kind of information can be unsafe to share, and what’s fair game?
7. Don’t Believe Everything You See. Just because it’s online doesn’t make it true. Not everybody is who they say they are.
8. Use reputable sources. Learn to recognize red flags. Ask: How can you tell what’s a reliable source of information? What are some signs something’s a scam?
9. Think before you post. Use privacy settings.
10. Encourage kids to pause before they act. Ask: What are some questions you can ask yourself before you share something online? Have you ever regretted something you’ve posted or said online?
11. Stand Up for Others, but within the framework of your personal safety. If someone’s getting bullied or picked on, speak up, report it, or reach out. Doxxing is common, where spiteful people spy on your personal data and publish it to harm you and your family.
12. Give kids tools to use in a crisis. Ask: If someone was being mean to you online, what would you want your friends to do? Do you know how to flag or report bullying on a social network or in a multiplayer game?