The digital world as we know it evolves with every passing minute. Our digital activities contribute with each comment, share, like, tag, tweet, message, search or pin. Our unique collection of interactions online is known as a digital footprint, a set of records that can be stored permanently across websites, search browsers, social networks and databases (Jutt, 2009). As educators, we operate within a very public profession. With so much transparency, what can we do to safeguard ourselves?
Firstly, getting critical about all interactions online is important, understanding the appropriate level of information to share. One way that teachers can control their exposure is by setting up separate digital identities. For example; using a public, professional profile for educational purposes, and a personal, private profile with an alias name for friends and family. According to Tranberg (2013), this provides a level of perception security and limits personal information being accessible within the community.
As educators, we are responsible for guiding children on safe digital practice also. Digitally expectant students are living and learning in the electronic era (Howell, 2012), so what are some of the things that teachers can do to educate and support awareness?
- Explain the principals of digital security
- Demonstrate the effective use of passwords, location disabling and privacy settings on accounts
- Show examples of secure ‘padlock’ icons on websites and browsers
- Promote cyber-safety, the dangers of engaging in online chats or friendships with people you do not know
- Provide examples of online bullying; what is acceptable behaviour and what is not
- Encourage students to think critically about personal information they share with others
- Highlight the transparency of social media. Thinking before you post, reviewing the appropriateness of actions; asking yourself, ‘am I happy for this to exist online forever?’
Teaching students the fundamentals of digital security promotes responsible ICT participation. Developing students’ skills to confidently manage their digital footprint, supports a life-long commitment to achieving digital citizenship (Howell, 2012).
An excellent program to support the ongoing education of digital security and child safety in schools is the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. Click here to learn more about their e-smart initiative for schools.
Common Sense Media has put together a free printable poster for classrooms to promote the principals of digital citizenship.
Alannah and Madeline Foundation. (2017). eSmart. [Online]. Retrieved from https://www.amf.org.au/what-we-do/esmart/
Common Sense Media. (2017). Digital citizenship poster. [Online]. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/elementary_poster
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT. Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Jutt, J. E. (2009). Common sense media: Digital footprint intro. [Online]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/6709512
Tranberg, P. (2013). Fake it – to control your digital identity: TEDxOxford. [Online]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRrgD-4-D8s
USC. (2017). The guide to pinterest for educators. [Image]. Los Angeles, California: University of Southern California Rossier School of Education. Retrieved from https://rossieronline.usc.edu/pinterest-for-educators/