I keep thinking that grown-up politicians and celebrities will stop humiliating themselves when they use digital media.
But then another event occurs, and I am reminded that a good number of adults, just like many kids, have not absorbed four primary fundamentals or axioms of digital life.
- Nothing is completely private.
- Nothing can ever be totally erased — even when an app or site that says that it will disappear.
- Nothing put online anonymously will necessarily stay that way.
- Nothing personal should be communicated online if it cannot become public.
I understand why kids haven’t mastered the fundamentals. This April 24, 2013 NPR story, SnapChat App Destroys Photos Seconds After Sending, offers a pretty good illustration of why teens and tweens need to hear the axioms repeated over and over, even when they are having good, clean fun. Hearing the rules and the safety tips — and finally figuring them out — is a part of growing up.
Unfortunately, plenty of adults need the same acceptable use reminders. Not so sure? Well you can follow the news and wait for the next public embarrassment or just check into one of the many adult information sharing chats and forums when a disagreement occurs.
The four axioms are rules-of-the-road for anyone — of any age — who uses digital devices. It’s just too bad that all these devices don’t have a warning imprinted or at least a cautionary message that flashes when the device fires up.
I am guessing that a fair number of adults, whether or not they have children, do not use much social media other than Facebook and maybe Twitter — media that seem to be the basis of many adult mistakes. To learn more about what’s out there check out Discover Your Child’s Digital World, my new “class-on-a-blog.” The sole purpose of this site is to describe web 2.0 sites and apps, offering adults, parents especially, short and easy-to-read descriptions and links to additional information.
Privacy is elusive and privacy without understanding the four axioms is almost impossible. Today, many adults tend to be far more concerned about online strangers or predators than about the potential for a child to be publicly humiliated because of poor digital judgment. Moreover, grown-ups may want to pause for a moment to consider that they, too, are capable of making an embarrassing mistake.