"I am most concerned about our students in middle and high school. I do not talk about the digital footprint any longer. Students are now creating digital tattoos that will stay with them forever. A tattoo is permanent and cannot be removed. With the current climate of the pandemic, electronic communication tools are being used more widely. What students post online, even in middle school, can impact their future. I ask teachers and parents to use these tips to help students as they navigate the vast space of the internet.
- Respect -- Students should always be respectful when communicating or creating in the online world. I cannot stress enough to treat others online the way they would like to be treated in person. Just because they are not face-to-face doesn’t mean they are free to speak with disrespect. The words they put out online will follow them as they move through life. When considering what path to follow after school, they should remember that colleges and employers will look at their digital tattoo.
- Ownership -- Students need to take charge of their digital lives. A student’s digital tattoo starts early. We need to remind our students they are responsible for everything they do online. They are the ones clicking on the keys and uploading photos and are responsible for how large their digital tattoo becomes.
- Voice -- Students need to explore ways to show positivity on the internet. We can help them by creating activities that model collaboration and positivity in the online environment. Facilitating opportunities for students to experience the internet’s potential for positivity can go a long way to helping students represent themselves as the strong individuals we know they are.
- Wellness -- Students need to step away. We all realize in this digital world this is easier said than done, but everyone needs to step away from the screen from time to time. Spending too much time on electronic devices can cause feelings of isolation and depression. Our students should be engaging in activities at home and school that allow them time away from the screen.
- Protection -- Students need to protect their digital selves. Students may think it is a good idea to share account information such as usernames and passwords with friends, but this is just like giving the key to their house to people on the street. Remind students to keep their private information private and not to share too much about themselves. There are people that are looking for small bits of personal information online that they can piece together like a puzzle to form a larger picture.
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