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Another public figure has made yet another public digital gaffe, giving parents one more opportunity to engage the family in a discussion about the unrelenting power of digital tools.
Representative Weiner (D-NY) is just the latest, and it looks like public figures and celebrities will continue to make these public mistakes, like clockwork, for a long time to come. We can laugh at the ineptness of these public personalities, but the bottom line is that we are all one instant gratification click away from making a public and embarrassing error.
Although we may worry about the safety of our children and their activities on the web, most of these problems, while alarmingly publicized and widely and repetitively covered in the media, are not the biggest risk for children.
What we should dread, however, is the potential harm from a digital misjudgment spontaneously sent off via e-mail, text, Twitter, voicemail, or whatever else we all find to use in the future. Instant digital missives, unlike the gossipy handwritten notes we adults used to pass around to a few people at school, can instantly become public and humiliating. Or they can lie quietly, waiting in the vastness of the web, until some reason arises for people to seek out information about us.
The New York Times article, Erasing the Digital Past, is a must-read for everyone who uses electronic tools and toys, pointing out that the electronic world is public, permanent, and non-erasable. Watch the digital footprint video (embedded at the bottom of this post) from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society to learn even more. Continue reading