Digital Footprint, Something to stress over or just another dust collector on a shelf?

Is a Digital Footprint is it becoming like an old photo album gathering dust on a shelf? I had this thought when the question came up because I thought, “Should a Digital Footprint something that we should be stressing over or should we know it is there like an old picture album”. I think that in this day and age we have to be proactive but we have to work on making sure that we don’t become reactive about our Digital Footprint.

I see many people who are so stressed about their security that they have little or no Digital Footprint, yet they want to get into social media. When they ask for help and give me their criteria about how they want the security setup, I have to tell them that it isn’t possible to be on social media the way they want. They ask why and I generally answer with “because it’s SOCIAL media”. If everything is private then there isn’t very much social about it.

I think that a lot of this fear comes from articles like the one I read by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras published in Time Magazine. This article is only based on partial data and limited information. Dr. Kardaras equates digital device addiction to heroin addiction because MRI scans show that the same parts of the brain are active. Well since the brain is only so big and the parts that control things like doing something that satisfies you are in only a few locations, I am sure that they are all firing the same way.

This fear mongering is why I created my Powtown video. I face this every day with teachers, parents, administrators and sometimes students. It is the part of my job that I like the least. But it is part of the job that I try to spend time educating myself on, in preparation for the times when it comes up. Like reading this article from The Verge in rebuttal to Dr. Kardaras. This fear mongering also keeps people from separating out social media use from technology use. They are NOT one and the same.

Back to the question for this week, Should educators have a digital footprint, my answer is absolutely, YES. If you don’t have one of any kind, how can you teach kids about it effectively? You don’t have to have a large, extensive footprint, but no or very little digital footprint is going to be hard to relate to.

As a Tech leader in my school, I may have one of the largest digital footprints, but that doesn’t mean I don’t monitor and control it to the best of my ability. While I might be “techie” I am not interested in everyone knowing every small detail about everything that I do!

Having balance in your technology use is a part of Digital Citizenship. I like the visual in this article titled 8 Digital Life Skills all Children Need. (Though I was hesitant to reference the visual because it was difficult for me to find the visual, since it isn’t cited! until I reread the article and found the link to the DQ Institute.) I like their visual because it references balance many times and in many different ways. It talks about managing your time, managing your digital footprint, and being aware of privacy. I do like how this one is worded but I wonder with all of the resources from ISTE, Google and Common Sense Media, if there will ever be one that leads the way. I think they are all versions of the same ideas but do so many resources saying the same thing or help get the word out?

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