Thursday, 5 June 2014

Is Your Daughter Building a Positive Digital Footprint?

I have been very absent from writing this blog and as I sat down to compose an email to the parents of my Year 9 class, it dawned on me that the conversation was probably applicable to all our parents. As parents it is very easy for all of us to be concerned and even fearful of the negative consequences to our children's use of social media and other online web tools. What is not so difficult to imagine are the positive consequences purposefully developing a digital footprint can have, as for many of us it is outside our realm of experience. So let's change that...this video is great and includes some information that opened our eyes when we found it.

Both the teaching and iCentre staff repeatedly stress the importance of developing a POSITIVE digital footprint ... An important disclaimer here - your younger daughter in Year 8 or 9 will be MUCH better at having a conversation about their digital footprint than your older daughter for a number of reasons:
  1. ReTech - Students in Year 8 and 9 have had the benefit of our ReTech course in which this is part of the curriculum we study.  Students in older grades will have also been exposed to these conversations but in a less systemised way (so it may not have moved into the easy to retrieve part of her knowledge)
  2. Students in Year 8 do better on cyber safety tests than students in Year 12 (yes, is a gross generalisation). Why? Year 8s are more risk averse, have been well trained in stranger danger by their primary school teachers, tend not to push boundaries and have not yet succumbed to adolescence and "shock value" tactics when talking to their parents and teachers.
Having said that, here are some discussion points for that talk with your daughter about her digital footprint...

Profile Picture

Does your daughter use an avatar or a photo of herself? We teach students to create an avatar, especially in the younger years as it gives students a buffer zone in which to learn. If you would like to create one for yourself you can do it for free at face your manga as well as many other sites. As students progress to the senior years, many change their profile picture to a photograph. However, as we know there are photographs that will help you get a job and photographs that won't. Hopefully, your daughter is showing her beautiful face and not a downwards selfie that shows more than is desirable and undermines the positive digital footprint.   

Online Name

There is nothing wrong (except for certain legal situations) with using your real name online when you are trying to purposefully build a positive digital footprint. In ReTech we encourage students to use their student code or an online name that does not directly identify them either personally or as a student at the College - again as a learning zone buffer.  As students move into the higher grades, careful consideration needs to be given to the purpose of the online communication to decide whether or not to use their real name or a screen name.

Publishing Online

Again, publishing online is a great way to build your digital footprint and students are always encouraged to:

  • proofread their work before posting
  • have someone else proofread their work (like a parent or older sibling)
  • use images that they are allowed to use and to attribute them
  • sharing their best work, work they have put effort into creating
Doing these simple things goes a long way towards making the digital footprint positive.

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