When and where should we be teaching students about their digital footprint?
There is a lot of talk about digital footprints. Imagine what an enterprising entrepreneur could do if she could design “digital mats” to clean up our tracks every time we take a waltz through the Internet. How do we prepare our students for the idea that “Big Brother" is not only watching, he is listening and keeping a record of EVERYTHING we do online? Young people by nature consider themselves to be invincible. Just like Nathan, many will see no reason to worry or even consider the effects of that footprint—out of sight, out of mind.
By the intermediate level of elementary school, students should be made aware of their "digital footprint." Since I work with third graders, my first concern is making them aware of things they can do to protect themselves when playing games and making contacts on the Internet. Earlier this year, our counselor did a great lesson with my class about using the Internet. One of his first questions was, “How many use the Internet when parents are not at home?” A surprising number said that they did. He addressed things like giving out last names and their specific location. Without being an alarmist, he pointed out that some of that information could be used in a negative way, and that they should always check with their parents BEFORE giving ANY information about themselves online. Teaching our students to be aware of questions they are answering online and what information they should not give would be the first step to building responsibility and awareness for their digital footprint.
Does ISBs AUP take this issue into account?
The ES AUP takes this issue into account if you know what “digital footprint” means. The policy is obviously written for teachers and parents--not kids. The term “digital footprint” or the fact that once something is posted or a site is searched online, “tracks” are left, is never mentioned. If the policy is to guide elementary students and how they use the system, it needs to be presented in “student language” and directly taught whenever developmentally appropriate.