Shaping Your Child’s Digital Footprint
As I was cooking dinner one night, I heard my 10-year-old daughter scream from the top of her lungs in the other room, “MOM, COME HERE!!!!” My stomach sank and the blood drained from my face thinking of all the life-threatening things that could be happening in the other room. I dropped the spatula and flew into the guest bedroom where the desktop computer is. I found my 4th-grade daughter sitting at the computer BEAMING.
“MOM! I’M FAMOUS!!! I’m on the internet!!! I just searched up my name, and there were all these pictures of me!”
My daughter gazed at me in shock, expecting me to feel the same as her. I had to chuckle deep inside; it was just so cute to see this genuine excitement of her discovering her digital footprint! Up to this point, most of those pictures she found online were probably posted by me at some point on Facebook. Now that she’s in her double digits, she is starting to create more content in online spaces, therefore, further developing her digital footprint.
You hear about people making pretty poor decisions like tweeting something racist and then getting fired or posting something inappropriate and losing their university scholarship or spot on the high school football team. I honestly feel that if these people would have had more practice and guidance in their earlier years around digital etiquette, some of these situations would have been avoided. That’s easy to say, as digital etiquette probably wasn’t available years ago. Life looked different then. Lucky for us parents and educators now, there are several organizations dedicated to providing quality resources to help us guide our children in shaping their digital footprint.
Here are my top 4 favorite resources to building my skillset as a parent in the digital age::
- CommonSense Media: They have a whole section dedicated to parent concerns and resources. They offer app, book and movie recommendations as well as a family media contract you can customize to fit your family’s needs. Additionally, they have a k-12 scope and sequence with high quality lesson plans and videos to use in the classroom. They also have some pretty cool games–for all ages! Digital Passport (elementary), Digital Compass (middle school) and Digital Bytes (high school)
- Google’s Be Internet Awesome: Students can learn how to build their digital literacy skills in the game, Interland.
- Family Online Safety Institute: Here’s a checklist to Clean Up Your Digital Footprint.
- Eduro Learning’s ebook, Parenting in the Digital Age: They also have some pretty fabulous free resources!
Coupled with these tools, I try and make every effort I can to talk to my child about life in the digital world, like the factors I consider when I buy something online, why I choose to post some things on my social media channels and other things not, how I ask for permission before posting certain photos of others and the list goes on.
I am confident that having open, honest communication is my best shot at helping my daughter shape her digital footprint into something both she and I are proud of.