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Districts across the country are making great strides towards digital literacy and student safety. As digital learning has increased in the last two years, we understand that student safety is paramount both online and offline. With that, digital footprints are an important part of our daily online activity.
"Today our digital footprint is our new first impression, and it starts taking shape the minute we go online.” – Diana Graber, CyberWise
What is a digital footprint?
A digital footprint is a trail of data you create while using online resources. This can include websites, emails, and information submitted to online services. A passive digital footprint is a trail of data that you unintentionally leave.
It is important to know that a digital footprint is a permanent trail of data. This means that no part of your online activity will be erased and may always be traced back to you.
What are some examples of digital footprints?
- IP address and geolocations
- Online search, purchase, and browsing history
- Text messages, including deleted messages
- Photos and videos, included deleted content
- Tagged photos on social media platforms
- Social media reactions (likes/loves) on social media platforms
Owning your digital privacy
Your digital footprint creates a permanent record and is visible online forever. Your digital footprint can be seen by anyone who wants to find out more about you or your online activity. There are many ways that online users can manage their digital footprint. In most instances, our daily interactions make us unaware of the need for an awareness to being safer online.
Here are a few ways that online users can manage their digital footprint:
- Search Yourself: Searching for your name online is a great way to see what is already published about you. In fact, many of the major search engines will give you a snapshot of your online presence. It can often be eye-opening to know what personal information is publicly available. A good rule of thumb is to remember that once something is posted, it is always posted. Even if the information is deleted, it will always be housed online.
- Audit Your Account: Completing an audit of the account profiles that you have created online is beneficial in managing your footprint. This can include updating your passwords, completing account security checks, frequently marking items as spam, and viewing your account activity regularly.
- Delete and Deactivate: Many online users have multiple accounts for different reasons. Some of those accounts may be personal, professional, or used for networking. Keeping a record of your accounts is crucial. When creating accounts, online users are often asked for identifiable information such as their name, address, and date of birth. While this information is necessary for access, it also leaves a trail of your personal data that is sitting online in accounts at are no longer active. Remember, if you have accounts that are no longer in use, transfer important information and then deactivate the old account.
- Managing your Settings: A large part of owning your privacy can be accomplished through your account settings. Browsers like Chrome, Safari, and Edge provide users with the option of using privacy and personalization settings. With the correct settings, online users can have immediate control of their accounts even when they are not online. As it pertains to social media platforms when creating a new account, configure your privacy settings to your comfort level for sharing information.
According to the Vice President of Trust & Safety at Google, in recent years there has been a significant increase in cybersecurity threats, especially for people working in public settings. To provide support, many companies are increasing their security measures by offering tools like password managers, privacy checkups, security checkups, and 2-Factor Authentication.
How do we keep students safe online?
We realize that students have more access to online technologies than ever before. With that, social media platforms have become an integral part of our digital DNA. While social networking platforms are a great way to stay connected to others, there should always been a focus on how much personal information you share online. Encourage students to tell a trusted adult if they see something in their digital footprint that is not appropriate.
Below are a few resources for students and educators from the National Cybersecurity Alliance:
- A Teacher’s Guide to Student Safety Online:
- How Can Education Help Students to Stay Safe Online?https://staysafeonline.org/online-safety-privacy-basics/can-education-help-students-stay-safe-online/
- 15 Online Security + Privacy Tips for College Students https://staysafeonline.org/online-safety-privacy-basics/15-online-security-privacy-tips-college-students/
Kajeet also has tools that can help keep students safe both in school and at home. Our Kajeet Sentinel platform has a firewall and other cybersecurity measures built in -- and it can also keep students from accessing a variety of harmful or undesirable websites.
If you'd like to talk to us about how to get your students safely connected, we'd love to hear from you -- just use this big blue button and send us a note:
Krystle Pearson, M.Ed. is the Kajeet Education Sr. Marketing Manager, bringing with her 16 years of experience, including her most recent role as a K-12 Director of Technology. She also serves on the Executive Board for the Virginia Alliance of Black School Educators.
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