Digital Footprint

As a teacher I constantly hear my students talk about what they’re doing on social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and anything and everything else, they are constantly posting, tweeting, uploading content about themselves and their friends. I grew up at the time when computers and cell phones were gaining popularity, but until college I never had much access to it. I grew up on a farm, we had dial-up Internet, no cable/satellite, and no cell phone. I never had the chance to document my whole life and share it with everyone, and I’m glad for that. I was a good kid and never got into trouble, but I can imagine I might not be thrilled with some of the things that could have been online if I was growing up today.

When I Google myself, both my maiden and married names, almost nothing comes up. There was a Whitepages listing, the faculty page for my school, a few old newspapers articles from the local paper for things like graduation, and my wordpress blog and LinkedIn profile I had to make for a previous class. Definitely nothing I mind being out there for everyone to see, and I’m glad about that. It took some time and trying several different things with my name, like my old high school, the high school where I teach, my hometown, etc., and I had to go through several pages before finding them, none were on the first page of the Google search. I know having an online presence can be a good thing nowadays, but I’m ok with there not being much about me online, and I’m definitely glad that there is nothing out there (at least that I’m aware of) that I regret.

I like that I have basically a blank slate to create the digital footprint that I want, and being nearly 30 I have the maturity to make sure it will benefit and not hinder me. For my students now, and my daughter in the future, I’m nervous for them. They don’t necessarily have the maturity and foresight to see how the things they’re doing and sharing today will affect them in the future. Even before my daughter was born my husband and I have already had several conversations about how to try and protect her when it comes to this type of thing. Who knows what type of technology or what the “new thing” will be when she’s old enough to start doing things that could impact her future, but hopefully we will be able to teach her to be smart about what she says and does online.