Sunday, June 28, 2015
A never ending digital footprint!
During the school year I spend my days with junior and senior high school honors students preparing for their standardized tests, getting them career and college ready and encouraging them to strive for the best they can be. We use technology appropriately and demand they use standard conventions of English in their writing and language appropriate to the subject they are studying. Honestly, they handle this very well and learn to "play the academic game." Several years ago we were encouraged to Twitter with our classes and I set that up immediately thinking they would jump right in. But the opposite occurred. They didn't want to Twitter with their teacher and most refused to follow the page. So I asked them why and the answer I got back surprised me. "We are afraid you will follow our Twitter pages," they replied. What shocked me was that they truly didn't think that I could see what they had posted. So I did a little research on my own. I went on Facebook and typed in several names - I was able to not only see what they posted, but all their personal information and photos as they had no security set up on their accounts. This held true for Twitter and other Internet sites. I came to the conclusion that we have not taught these students that they have been creating a "never-ending digital footprint" that will stay with them as they enter college, the work force and beyond. In a research study done by statisticbrain.com in April, 48% of 18-34 yr. olds check Facebook as soon as they wake up, 28% check their Facebook pages before they even get out of bed. These same students are uploading an average of 205 photos per day and every 20 minutes 3 million messages are being sent. We are teaching generations of students that have had social media since before they entered High School and perhaps even before grade school. In a June 28, 2015 article on natlawreview.com ( The National Law Review,) it was cited that 45% of employers use social media such as sites like Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter to screen job applicants. The article goes on to state that 2% of employers terminated employees for content on their social media and videos on YouTube. When we are born we receive a social security number that stays with us our entire life. We are foot and finger printed at birth and that is unique to each and everyone of us but the concept of a digital footprint is something not only schools must teach but parents must inform their children when they help them set up that first Facebook page in grade school. The consequences are too high for our college graduates and high school students trying to get into a good college or enter the workforce. In a 2013 blog on huffingtonpost.com, Kat Cohen cited a Kaplan survey of college admissions counselors. 27% of those surveyed said they had googled a student to find their presence on the Internet and 35% said they found things that negatively impacted their application. This number had tripled since the year before. A young person's digital footprint begins the minute they log onto the Internet and enter the world of social media or blogs or anywhere they publish something. As teachers, we must direct our students to be responsible, ethical digital citizens and show them what could happen in their future years if they do not consider the impact of their digital footprint.