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This session is one of three (see previous post) sessions delivered this week to all our students as part of our Digital Citizenship bootcamp.

This session was developed and presented by Dean of Students Fred Roberts and English Teacher (and St. Gregory graduate of the class of 2006) Corinne Bancroft;  Jeremy Sharpe, St. Gregory class of 2006, also contributed to its development.

Our session began by showing a Good Morning America video regarding death threats to Rebecca Black.  The reason for this is to show the extent to which social media can go viral, even out of control, and in such a negative way.  This also leads into a discussion of how each person who responded to the It’s Friday video create and leave a digital footprint.

What is the relationship between social media and one’s digital footprint?

On the Internet a digital footprint is used to describe the trail, traces or “footprints” that people leave online. This is information transmitted online, such as a forum registration, e-mails and attachments, uploading videos or digital images and any other form of transmission of information — all of which leaves traces of personal information about yourself available to others online.

Much of our digital footprint is left through the use of social media.  This is where many of us will spend a lot of our ‘digital time’ and may not be as aware of the ramifications of what we are engaged in.  In a more relaxed atmosphere, such as chatting via Facebook, users are more likely to say something they may regret later. The message with this is that regardless of turning in an English assignment of chatting on Facebook, users must be aware of what they are sharing.

Discussing students’ definition of social media.

  • a.  Definition
  • b.  Upsides
  • c.  Downsides
  • 2.  Connectivity and sharing.

A digital footprint is something we have control over in terms of what we post and the sites we enter.  We can control the size of our ‘footprint’ by limiting the amount of information we provide to the internet. This is a conscience decision we make each time we log onto the internet.  What we share, who we share it with, and the extent of our connection with others will influence the size of our digital footprint.

One can have a ‘light connection’ with a thousand people via Facebook, and the information shared in this case should be fairly benign.  In such a setting it would be a mistake to share personal information or a photograph that was remotely controversial or inappropriate.

As one’s connection with others becomes “heavier”, one that is being frequent and with an element of trust, then what is shared can have greater meaning.  The take away point is for the students to think about their connection to others and what they share when they are online.

Privacy issues.  Nothing is private.

Things can be traced back to you. What you share with a friend online can be passed on to others, even if you assumed your friend was going to keep the information private.

A discussion of Facebook and how even though a person is not your Facebook friend, others have a way of accessing your Facebook account.  Potential employers and schools may look at one’s digital footprint to learn more about the applicant.

Sharing and discussing the “Sarah video.”  [Sorry you have to jump,  another “embedding disabled by request;” how I hate that message!]

Discussion.  Social media is social. 

How people meet or interact online is very different from the way people meet or interact in person.   People will do or say things online that they would never do in person.  The message with this discussion is for students to present themselves online as they are in the flesh.

Questions for discussion:

  • Is it acceptable for one to ‘stretch the truth’ with how they present themselves online?
  • Is it morally correct to portray one image for one group of people, and a different image for another group of people?
  • Is maintaining an ‘on line persona’ that is different from how you actually are dishonest?

Social media and the four R’s.

a.  Respect.

Respect begins with the individual and extends to others online.

b. Responsibility.

The use of the internet and social media brings a lot of power that must be used responsibly.

c. Reputation.

Your digital footprint is a reflection of who you are and it will last forever.  Make sure that what is online is the type of reputation you can live with for many years to come.

d. Representation of self, family, friends, work, school, etc.

We are all part of a larger group, whether that be family, friends, workplace or school.  What we say and do does, to a degree, have a reflection on the groups that we are associated with.

Video.  Do you have permission to post my face?

In showing this video we can see examples of each of the four Rs.

Discussion:  Ask students to share their experiences of the ups and downs of social media.

Homework assigned to all participants:   Google yourself today, and regularly.  Observe and manage your digital footprint.