Friday, October 1, 2010

Digital Footprint PSA

I had just two minutes and a microphone.  Below is the message I shared with our Grades 6-12 students at assembly this morning.  Basic but important.

CC image on Flickr by HaoJan
I'm here to make a quick Public Service Announcement.  My intention is not to preach but rather to pass along some good advice.

Social media, which includes things like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, are amazing things.  They let us connect and share on a level we've never been able to before in history.  With this power, though, comes a tendency sometimes to overshare and to share without forethought.  I want to draw your attention to this trend, and beyond reminding you of our school's rules, I want to be sure you don't lose sight of the big picture.  

As those of you who've taken my class know, college reps, recruiters, and employers are not just looking at your grades, essays, recommendations, and test scores; they're Googling you.  They're reviewing your digital footprint, that is, your representation on the Web and the collection of marks left by your use of social media.  Your comments, tweets, photos, videos, and status updates may affect their decision whether or not to offer you a place in their organization.  And because they're carefully examining all this, so should you.

Keep in mind, a digital footprint is not a bad thing.  On the contrary, it can be a great thing.  It can reflect your participation in athletics and the community, and it can showcase your talents, intelligence, creativity, and humor.  The good news is, you can manage and maintain your digital footprint and make it work in your favor.

So, this weekend, I encourage you to take a few minutes to explore and, if necessary, clean up your digital footprint.  Here are four steps to get you on your way:
  1. Google your name and any variations.  Be aware of your presence on the Web.  You don't want any surprises to arise during an interview down the road.  If you find something negative, talk to a teacher.  We'll help you.
  2. If you use social media, check your privacy settings.  Make sure they're updated and reflect your (and your family's) willingness to share.
  3. Review your friends list.  Refine it so that you're absolutely certain you're only sharing more personal ideas and items with those whom you know and trust and those who have your best interest at heart.
  4. Finally, even with privacy settings in place, think before you post, and post as if... Post as if your parents or guardians can see everything.  Post as if the Head of School can see everything.  Post as if an admission rep from the college of your dreams can see everything.  Because, technically, it's possible.  And while you might have forgotten that you posted some off-the-cuff remark, the Web hasn't.  And I don't want anyone in this room missing out on an incredible opportunity in life because you posted something when you were tired, bored, annoyed, or just not thinking.
If you'd like help managing your digital footprint, if you have any questions about use of social media or our school's guidelines around use of technology, don't hesitate to see me.  I'm here as a resource and an advocate for you.  Thanks.

1 comment:

  1. Great post in terms of Digital Citizenship. There is a lot to be aware of and reminded of when using the internet and social networks. You state it well. This would be a good post for students to read.