Everything you do online is, for the most part, permanent. Go back and re-read the previous sentence. People and companies are tracking what you do online. Usually it is not for your benefit or gain, its for theirs. Some are legally and ethically ok, others are not. This concept of a “Digital Shadow or Footprint” is one I’ve been speaking about in workshops for youth workers and parents for several years now. I first ran across the term when it was mentioned in a social media statistics video by Erik Qualman. As a youth worker, this is an important new facet of ministry that we need to be ready to help parents navigate. The below video gives a quick overview to the concept of a Digital shadow.
This is important. We now live in a world where the teenagers (and sometimes younger kids) are living with an indelible record of all the dumb stuff they do that could follow them to:
- The college admissions office
- Job interviews
- Scholarship application processes
- and more
This is a big enough issue that Eric Schmidt, the head of Google, spoke out about the situation a couple years ago at an event in England. We have to make sure the parents of the teenagers we work with are helping guide students to wise choices when the internet is involved. Pauline Grant has a some good tips to build on here. When parents are monitoring and aware of the content that their children are putting out online, it can prevent situations like this one, where a person has taken people’s Instagram photos and made incredible profits off of them, in the name of “art”.
Educate yourself, check yourself, and help others. We have a short window to affect the next generation.