9 Digital Parenting Back-to-School Tips – 2016 (With Printable PDF)

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Click to download a PDF document.

What can parents and teachers do to ensure that digital kids, with their hand-held devices, connected school activities, homework, and other online activities, get off to a good start at the beginning of the school year?

Back-to-school preparation is more than school supplies, lunch boxes and carpool arrangements. It also involves reviewing and articulating connected-life expectations with family members.

To help you consider the issues in your 21st Century child’s digital life, and your own, use the this nine-item back-to-school digital parenting checklist to get started. Continue reading

How Photos & Data Collecting Take Away Our Privacy

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A bank of computers in a data center. Via Pixabay.

Finding good resources to help young people learn and understand more about data and photo collecting is key to building strong citizens in our 21st Century digital world. We adults can also learn a lot in the process.

Interestingly, no matter how we set privacy settings (stipulating who can see our images), the sites where we post and share continually  accumulate information about us  — much, but not all, gleaned from the photos themselves.  Yes, it’s about digital footprints, but it’s much bigger than that.

One article we should read is Why Photos Are The Next Big Battleground in the Fight for Privacy, over at The Next Web news site. The report is chock full of interesting information about big data and how it zeros in on our photos. It also includes sobering statistics about the number of pictures that people share in sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Google. It’s good information to share with the digital kids in your family or school. Continue reading

Talking about Privacy & Digital Footprints In Grades 7-12

footpathOver the past couple of years, I’ve heard middle and high school kids say that they are sick-and-tired of hearing about their digital footprints — with many exclaiming that they already know what they need to know. My thought? They understand how they make digital footprints, but they don’t always make good decisions when it comes to avoiding the not-so-good digital trails.

What older students — those in late middle and high school — need is a reframed conversation, one that does not focus exclusively on what they do, focusing instead on the broad and complex issue of 21st Century privacy. Continue reading

Parents: Discover Your Digital Footprints & Teach Your Children Well

Yes, once again it’s summer! To celebrate the season I’m writing specifically for the parents of digital kids — suggesting ways that parents can use this more relaxed time of year to learn more about their own digital footprints.

summer digital projects

While some of the activities are similar to those in a post from last year, this beginning-of-the-summer blog post aims to help parents gain a greater understanding of digital footprints for themselves — and then share this increased knowledge in conversations with their children. The longer term goal, of course, is to ensure that each child returns to school in the fall with more knowledge about the family’s digital profile, their own digital footprints, and privacy.

Below are some suggestions to help parents get started learning.

  • Log in and visit your Google dashboard.

    Log in and visit your Google dashboard.

    Google yourself. See what digital footprints others see when they Google your name or your email address. Then go to the Dashboard, while you are logged in, and see how Google keeps track of your activities. Dashboard notes everything a person does on Google — from email to images to alerts to searches and much more. Once you finish up learning about your own digital trail, organize a family digital footprint party and help every member of the family go through the same steps.

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Google Dashboard: A Connected-World Teaching Tool for All Ages

A screen show from the Google Dashboard.

A screen shot from the Google Dashboard.

If you use Google, take a few minutes to check out the Google Dashboard and look over a detailed digital footprint snapshot of your Google activities. Learning about digital footprints is an important 21st Century connected-world skill.

The Dashboard keeps track of everything — and I mean everything — that you do on Google. It’s a dynamic digital footprint collection. To sign in and examine your Gmail or Google Alerts is easy, and you can also check out the other features offered by Google such as Google Docs, Google Calendar, Blogger, or Google Reader (many more Google products are available and new ones become available on a regular basis).

Google Dashboard is an awesome connected-world teaching tool for 21st Century children at any age and for adults, because it makes a point — concretely — about the amount of information that Google accumulates on each of us. Many people are surprised, and a bit disconcerted, on a first visit, because the Dashboard depicts a good deal about each user.

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How Many Digital Footprints Does Your Family Make?

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 3.12.51 PMHave you ever thought long enough about digital footprints to imagine how many digital tracks family members or students make in a day or two?

Early in the school year fifth graders and their parents kept a short diary, estimating the footprints in a range of categories and then returned to school with the results. Footprints were estimated for sending texts, banking, receiving texts, purchasing groceries, cell phone calls, online banking, web sites, online purchases, and about a dozen more categories.

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Resolution 2015: Focus on Family Members’ Digital Footprints

Digital Footprint Venn Diagram Project

Student Digital Footprint Venn Diagram Project

Digital footprints — those small bits of digital information collected and compiled on each individual — can portray a person in all sorts of ways. Everything we do on the web or with when we interact with other connected sites is saved somewhere. We may think first of email, texts, social media, and web searches, but our information gets collected when we shop, travel, drive, make mobile phone calls, and even when we buy groceries.

Below are a few links that can help parents and educators think about managing and curating digital footprints. Everyone, child and adult, has a digital footprint profile.