Digital Footprint & Reputation

What is a digital footprint and why is it important to know about it?

Students learn to protect their own privacy and respect others’ privacy. Our digital world is permanent, and with each post, students are building a digital footprint. By encouraging students to self-reflect before they self-reveal, they will consider how what they share online can impact themselves and others. Awareness about one’s own digital footprint can also help to support digital literacy.

What to Know

In a world where anything created online can be copied, pasted, and sent to thousands of people in a heartbeat, privacy starts to mean something different than simply guarding personal information. On the positive side, this culture of sharing holds tremendous promise for young people to express themselves, collaborate, and find support for their ideas and interests. However, the ease of online disclosure also poses risks for young people. A decision made in the spur of a moment — a funny picture, a certain post — can resurface years later. Something originally sent to a friend can be sent to a friend’s friend, and so on. That’s how secrets become headlines and how false information spreads fast and furiously – to classmates, teachers, college admissions officers, future employers, or the public at large.

Why Teach It

Help your students …

  • become aware of the “digital footprint” they leave online and reflect on the kind of personal information to share about themselves, depending on the content, context, and audience.
  • celebrate a “culture of sharing” through digital media while considering some possible harmful effects of over-sharing and Internet privacy.
  • learn to respect the privacy of others online when tagging, posting, or copying other’ personal information.

By guiding your students to self-reflect before they self-reveal, you can help them learn to consciously manage their own privacy online, as well as respect the privacy of others. If students aren’t careful about what, how, and to whom they disclose information online, it may be used or interpreted in ways they never intended. Help them understand the public and permanent nature of the Internet so they can begin to build a positive digital presence.