Your Digital Tattoo
(Footprints are temporary, tattoos are permanent -a reminder that the Internet never forgets!)
Have you ever wondered what people think of you?
People learn about who you are from listening to the things you say and the way you say them.They learn about who you are by watching what you do, how you behave, and how you treat other people.They learn about you as you share your passions (the things you love) and values (what's important to you).
Everything you say and do portrays an image of you. This is your reputation; it's how people see you.
How do you want people to see you? What kind of reputation do you want to have? What image are you
trying to portray to the people around you by the things you say and do?
People will remember you for the things you say and do. Sometimes they will remember you for the things you didn't do. They will also remember you for the things you were passionate about and the values you stand for. How do you want people to remember you? And, what do you want to be remembered for?
How can you make people like and respect you?
Have you ever wanted to improve your image? How can you control or improve your image or reputation? Do you want people to think of you as kind, caring, smart, witty? If so, act that way. Use good manners. Be respectful. Behave appropriately. Follow the rules. Show people what you want them to see. Show them your best. Give your best effort at all times. When you do these things, you are creating a good image of yourself. You will have a good reputation and a positive public image! You are leaving good tracks behind...
What are digital footprints?
You might not have ever thought about this, but you have a digital reputation, too. You create your digital footprints through all your online actions, activities, and communications, including things you send or post about yourself and others on the Internet. The websites you visit, the things you say online and how you say them, the text, pictures, and videos you post all paint a picture of who you are. This is your digital footprint; the digital tracks you leave behind.
Common Sense Media defines your digital footprint like this:
Digital Footprint: All of the information online about a person either posted by that person or others, intentionally or unintentionally
Who might be following your digital footprints?
Do you realize that people can Google you to quickly find out more about you? Google yourself. What comes up? Is this the image you want to project to the world?
Do you know that your parents, coaches, teachers, and principal, can Google you to find out what you have been up to online? What results will they see? What kind of digital footprint or trail are you leaving behind for them to follow? You must consider how your online actions impact your life, now and in the future.
How can my digital footprints become a problem for me now or in the future?
Some people don't realize that what they say and do online can be seen by others. Governors, Senators, police, teachers, and other public officials and employees have lost their jobs due to their risky online behavior.
Students have been kicked off sports teams and even out of college for posting pictures of themselves doing or saying inappropriate things online. Some young people have even been arrested and had to register as sex offenders for sharing inappropriate images over the Internet via computer and text messaging. And don't think this only happens to people that live far away, because I am telling you about things that have happened recently, locally, regionally, statewide, and nationally.
To make matters worse, you might not get into college or get a job you want all because of some dumb picture, video, or text you or a friend posted online. You really need to "Think b4 U Click!" Is this something you would want your parents, teachers, coaches, and perspective employers and college acceptance officials to see? If not, don't say it. Don't post it! Assume the whole world is watching.
Furthermore, once you post something online, it's difficult, if not impossible to get it back! Even if you take offensive material down, there are ways for companies to retrieve it. And things you said or posted could've already been copied, saved, or sent to someone else...someone who you didn't intend to see it.
How can I manage my digital footprint?
I'm not suggesting you hide who you are - quite the contrary! I am advising that you rise to the occasion and be the person you should be! Post articles, achievements, and other artifacts that you can be proud of...things that create and present a positive image of you. Remember, the world is watching. What will people in the world think and remember about YOU? Will people respect you now and in the future? It's all up to you and your online choices. Be smart and think before you click!
Continually, ask yourself: Who do I want to be? How do I want people to see you, now and in the future? Am I doing a good job of conveying a positive image through my online actions and communications? These are the things you need to think about if you want to build a good reputation for yourself online.
What can I do to protect my digital footprint (online reputation):
- Guard your privacy
- Protect your reputation
- Know that nothing is private online
- Assume everyone is watching
- Apply the "Golden Rule"
- Watch the clock - In other words, don't live your whole life online, get out and do something!
- Choose wisely - not everything online is good for you
- Don't hide behind your screen name
- Think about what you see - don't believe everything you see online
- Be smart and safe!