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Educating kids on their online identity…How can they be in control of their digital footprint?

“Cyber Safety”… is it just me or does that seem like a very outdated term? I associate this term with the first wave of our school systems trying to educate students about online safety. I can’t say I experienced much of this myself, I recall the internet being introduced in schools when I was in about Grade 7. I do recall when Facebook first came out and my parents wanted me to take my profile down because they didn’t like my information being online. (Lucky for me, after they made me delete it I found a “reactivate your account” button… sorry mom lol) There was also a big push at my high school about teaching us how to use Facebook appropriately. I think these were the days where everyone accepted every friend request, whether they knew the person or not. I recall our entire student body being in the gym and listening to our counselors lecture us on the importance of not accepting friend requests from people we didn’t know.

I think most of my experience in learning about digital safety would have been around the idea of social media. In my years as a student teacher at the University of Regina there was a heavy focus on the idea that we would be professionals so there shouldn’t be photos of you online with a drink in your hand or being out at the bar. Reflecting on it now, I actually feel that was a very prominent conversation in many of my education classes. Near the end of my schooling there was this pressure to “clean up” our social media pages in order to put on the face of a professional. I think this was also the time where the message was very clear that whatever you put online was there FOREVER! Therefore you should be extremely cautious, if not a little bit scared about what you choose to post.

Looking back now, our society has become even more reliant on technology than we probably ever imagined. So instead of an avoidance tactic, I think a more useful strategy would have been something about building a positive digital footprint. We are all online in some way, shape or form. How can we educate students to be in charge of their digital narrative and take ownership and responsibility for how they are represented online? I think this should be the focus moving forward. Common Sense Media has some great lessons about this for all ages.

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3 thoughts on “Educating kids on their online identity…How can they be in control of their digital footprint?

  1. I think a lot of kids including myself didnt realize that ‘mutual friends’ does not mean you know the person and that you should not accept the follow request. High schools should stress more that we need to be careful what we post for all professions. It is hard to remove those photos after the fact.

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  2. I think it is really important to educate kids about their digital footprints. Almost all people are online now, so I do feel it is an important educational piece. Students need to know what a scam is, and about not leaving personal info on the internet. All social media is bad for collecting information, but for example, there are quizzes on fakebook where you are supposed to answer all of these questions in the guise of a game. Don’t do it. LOL. I have to admit that my opinion of social media is not great. I have a fakebook presence and a couple of blogs, but I am reducing the amount of time I spend online. I am not a huge fan of social media. I have watched people I know become adducted to likes ect. on Instagram and TikTok, and after seeing that, it has caused me to rethink social media and the time I spend on it. Students need to know that there are risks.. and maybe it isn’t stranger danger like we have all been trained to think.

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    1. I agree with you Robyn. I have also started limiting the amount of time I spend on social media. It feels good to be free from that and not let it consume me. But if it is this difficult for adults to manage their time it’s way harder for kids!

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