Digital footprint & identity
The same way we leave footprints when walking on a sandy beach, we leave digital footprints whenever we move around in the digital world. This can be information we share actively such as a photo, a ‘like’, a comment or a gaming subscription, that shape our digital identity. Or they can be information we share passively with websites and apps such as location tracking, cookies on websites and data-collection within apps.
Digital identity is all about who we are and what others see when we roam about the digital world. Just like in the physical world, our digital actions and the footprints we leave behind shape our digital identity, including how others online perceive and treat us. So, it’s important that we behave honestly and kindly to people online, because just like in the real world, our actions online can have consequences.
Digital media and content can affect how children feel about themselves and may influence their behavior online. It’s important to build up your child’s confidence and teach them that they are perfect just the way they are, and that whilst gaining likes, followers or attention might be thrilling, it shouldn’t govern how they behave online. Explain the importance of staying true to themselves and their values and teach them to behave the same way online as they would in the physical world (caring, respectful, polite).
When talking with your child about an abstract and complex concept, it can be helpful to take it in smaller steps. For active sharing: Let your child know that when we post anything online, the content may exist for a long time. It can be saved, shared and potentially altered by others, so we should make sure we’re only sharing things we’re okay with having around for a long time.
For passive sharing: Encourage your child to always ask themselves why a digital service requests your data. Do they have a valid reason? For example, does that map app really need to know where you were two weeks ago or when you’re not using the app? Select privacy settings you’re comfortable with. You can use a search engine to find guides on how to do this.
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