The idea of spring cleaning each individual’s digital profile is terrific — something for parents and teachers to do themselves and then share with children.
Just like we tidy up our homes and our gardens in March, April and May, it’s a good time to put our digital domiciles on the to-do list. Paying attention to the upkeep of our digital footprints and devices allows us to clean up and polish online images and minimize potential problems on our devices and gadgets. In the process we learn a lot about ourselves, but also about the details that others can learn about us online.
So check out the Family Online Safety Institute’s (FOSI) digital life spring cleaning mini-poster over at the organization’s newish web space, A Platform for Good. FOSI designed A Platform for Good as an informational site that helps parents, teachers, and teens connect, share, and do good online. The website’s about page shares this thought about its mission:
Our vision for A Platform for Good is to start a dialogue about what it means to participate responsibly in a digital world. While recognizing the potential risks, we will celebrate technology as a vehicle for opportunity and social change.
The clean-up-your-digital-life mini-poster, available by link or download, asks each of us take some time to dust off our online lives. Suggestions include ensuring that our passwords are strong, Googling ourselves to see what comes up from a search, and examining our devices to be sure that they are secure and up-to-date. The Platform for Good document also encourages individuals — adults and children — to evaluate the privacy settings on any social network accounts (many adults and children reside on these sites as if they are second homes or at least daily digital playgrounds).
So why should we go through this process?
The most important reason we need to spring clean our digital lives is to learn how others see can see us on the web and ensure that we are in as much control as possible of our digital footprints. At a time when privacy, while still important to many of us, is taken less seriously in the wider world, we are examining our digital profiles as if we are museum curators at an exhibit.
Except that we are curating ourselves and our children.
What will people see when they search for us online they see if they Google us? Instead of ceding the control of our digital lives to some algorithmic search formula, adults and children need to think carefully about what we want others to discover when they search for us online. When will another person, probably for a good reason, Google your child? Sooner than might be expected — perhaps for that first baby-sitting job or a middle school volunteer position.
In a future post I will write about online activities that are committed to service and support strong digital profiles for kids. In the interim a past blog post, Kids Service, Giving and Philanthropy, shares a community service site that children and their families can explore.
Time to start that digital spring cleaning.