In this day and age, it seems everyone has some form of digital footprint. I began with using myspace years ago when I was in my early 20’s long before I even knew what the term digital footprint was. I used myspace to share music, pictures of social events and vent at times. Of course I had no idea what implications my posts would have and figured only those who I was friends with could see what I shared. When I read “How Your Unknowingly Embarrassing yourself online (and How to Stop) by Alan Henry, I immediately thought of all the things I may have posted on Myspace many years ago!
You probably know not to post things online that could bite you later, but many of us do it all the time anyway—often without even realizing it. Whether it’s a friend tagging you in a photo or admitting you torrent your movies in a Facebook status, even innocuous posts or photos can damage your relationships, get you in trouble at work, or even land you in legal hot water.
I know I have posted and been tagged in many different pictures and comments in my early social media days. Those postings are still out there in the digital world and I worry about that. Even though nothing is too incriminating it is still there (beach pics, trips through Europe, etc). I enjoyed when I could share pictures and posts years ago, but now I feel I have to be so much more careful even with very high privacy settings.
According to Erica Swallow in her article, How Recruiters Use Social Networks to Screen Candidates 69 percent of recruiters have rejected candidates based on their social network profiles or their digital footprints. Personally, I do not feel the social network determines how well a job can be performed and I have a hard time accepting that this happens, a part of me also understands why this happens. An employer does not want someone who will complain about work online, spend time having fun and not make it into work, or do something illegal. However, my posts in my earlier social media days did not impact my job nor my performance in anyway. I would be disappointed to lose out on an opportunity just because some pictures posted.
I do feel it is important to represent oneself in a positive light on social media and I do have separate accounts for social life and friends as well as social media outlets that I use for work and to develop PLN’s. I have recently started using Twitter this past year and have found it to be an excellent tool to showcase some of what is happening in the classroom. I am also learning that I can use Twitter to help develop a strong PLN and learn more through the different articles posted. I feel my digital footprint on Twitter is positive as I learn more about it. I would hope a future employer would look closely at this in order to get a good picture of how I work as a professional.
I am also beginning to experiment with blogging for my classroom. I do not have much up yet as it takes an incredible amount of time for me to add pictures and describe them, but I am having fun and hopefully this will be a tool I can use more in the future to communicate with parents as well as have a more positive digital footprint.
On that note, I do believe it is important to teach children even as young as kindergarten that what is put online is there forever, so they need to be positive and careful. They are just learning to blog as well with our Easy Blogger Jr. and as we look at some of the things blogged, we discuss whether it is appropriate or not (videos of kids making silly noises or in the bathroom verses kids reading a story they wrote). It is never too early to explain appropriate material and what is positive and negative. Hopefully they will start early to build a positive digital footprint.