Worried that your kids are throwing caution to the wind when they’re online? It’s time to talk to them about their digital footprint. The most important thing to remember when talking to children is to speak in a way that will matter to them. Otherwise, their eyes will glaze over before you get past the first slide in your PowerPoint presentation on “Digital Footprints” – a term, by the way, that kids will probably not understand.
Define the Term “Digital Footprint”
Explain to your kids that a digital footprint is sort of like a fingerprint: it will follow you everywhere you go and it will always be traceable back to you. These footprints grow as the years go on and they’re very difficult, if not impossible, to erase. Most importantly, if children are careful from the beginning, they can control their digital footprint.
Digital footprints contain all of the information that the Internet collects when you sign onto your e-mail, register for a website, upload photos and communicate with friends on social media. Another aspect of you digital footprint is the impression you leave behind through your words, images and the way you interact with other people.
Protecting Your Privacy
Privacy and security settings are important for two reasons: first, they can protect against having your identity stolen; second, your kids can control (to a degree) who sees what they post online. Help your kids choose the right settings for their various social media profiles depending on what they plan to use each account for and the type of content they’ll be posting.
It’s important that kids understand that they can still be themselves and express themselves online, even while being safe and careful. The Internet, especially social media and blogs, is excellent for showcasing your best, most interesting qualities. The Internet can – and should – be used to do everything from building friendships to finding a job and achieving life goals. By letting your kids positively express themselves online, they’ll improve the perception that others have of them and they’ll hone their personality in the meantime.
Being respectful of others is both personally important and legally necessary. As social media and technology expand, more and more laws about Internet usage are cropping up. Not only can you ruin your online reputation and hurt someone’s feelings with your words and actions online, but you also run the risk of breaking a law. It’s important to respect other people’s ideas and commentary, which means keeping quiet even if you have strong feelings about a taboo topic. You also always want to show that you respect the law, including copyright law. That means that you shouldn’t be talking about illegal activities on the Internet or sharing somebody else’s content online.
Questions That Children Should Ask Themselves Before Posting
Force-feeding your kids information about staying safe online is bound to get overwhelming quickly for them, especially if they don’t fully understand what you’re talking about yet. To make things simpler, have your kids consider these three points before posting anything online:
1. Are you posting something that’s okay for everyone in your life to see, including your friends, parents, grandparents, exes, college advisors and employers? If not, either make sure your privacy settings have blocked certain people from seeing your content or reconsider putting the content online altogether.
2. What does the image you’re about to post really say about you? Think of adjectives that people might use to describe the photo, then decide if they reflect the qualities you want.
3. If you’re posting about somebody else, put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you’d feel if you saw the same thing written about you.
Janet Wilson is a professional blogger that provides news and information on finding a Florida adultery defense attorney. She writes for Musca Law, sex crimes defense attorneys and Florida Bigamy Defense lawyers