For years, when I taught seminars in digital citizenship to third, fourth, and fifth graders, the primary topic was always digital footprints. Oh, we discussed and worked on lots of other 21st Century connected-world issues, civility, for instance, but everything seemed to wend its way back to those always-proliferating digital footprints.
We watched and rewatched my favorite digital dossier video from the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard. The students kept diaries and also asked their parents to do so. They found an online calculator to explore and considered how their permanent digital footprints might look a few years down the road. We made a list of all the potential places that might collect digital footprints, one year creating a list that started at the ceiling, went all the way to the floor and then back up to the ceiling again.
My students were always amazed at the size of their digital dossiers which included, in addition to email, apps, social media, and websites, a range of digital markings that they never considered such as credit cards, license plates, grocery store purchases, EZ pass travel, Amazon purchases, app downloads, and so much more. So when the time came for a final project — more than half or each fifth-grade class chose to concentrate on a digital footprint topic. Two of their posters are shared here.
Today, just a few years later, our digital footprints collections continue to increase at warp speed. Almost everything — every part of life — from the cradle, to school, to college, to work, to retirement and even death, generates and saves data about each of us.
For an updated look at how to manage digital footprint profiles check out 12 Tips for Students to Manage Their Digital Footprints over at the Teach Thought website. It’s a handy reminder of the strategies we can use to teach children (and yes, their parents) how to acknowledge and manage the daily digital trails that they continually create about themselves. It also has a handy graphic that can be posted at any computers, charging stations, laptop lids, and even refrigerators as a reminder of the need to curate and take care.
A Few Past (and Still Relevant!) MediaTechParenting Digital Footprint Posts