Your child is growing up in the instant data era, where photos can be captured and uploaded to the Internet in seconds. Also, the strong development of information telephony, camera quality and the popularity of social networks also create conditions for your children to share and post online more than ever.

Many kids do not know that what they post comments and share on the internet will be permanent so they freely express themselves on the Internet without thinking carefully and they don’t know that these things will stay online forever and will likely negatively affect them in the future.

Articles that will help you understand what is a digital footprint and what you should take online to educate your children better.

What is a digital footprint?

A digital footprint is a data trace your child creates while using the Internet. It includes the websites your kids’ visit, the emails they send, and the information they submit.

What are the types of digital footprint?

A passive digital footprint

This is a trace of the data your child accidentally left online.

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For example, when your child visits a website, the web server might record their IP address, which identifies their Internet service provider and approximate location. Hackers can use it to steal information from their child’s computer. The only way to hide this is to use a VPN or other IT software.

What is a Digital footprint?Although IP address is subject to change and does not include any personal information, it is still considered part of the digital footprint.

A more personal aspect is your child’s search history, which is recorded by some search engines when they log in.

An active digital footprint

This includes data that your child intentionally submits or posts online.

For example emailing, blogging, updating your status or liking certain pages on social media. This means that every Instagram picture your child posts, every comment your child posts on Facebook, or every tweet your child posts on Twitter contributes to your child’s digital footprint.

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Once your child has any activity on the Internet, it will be permanently available online, on the servers of Facebook, Instagram, etc. and is out of your child’s control even after they upload and delete it.

Tips on creating a positive digital footprint for your kids

Personal information

Children don’t understand the boundaries of what to post and what not to post. Your child can post personally identifiable information (PII) online, such as home address, phone number, credit card number, family name publicly on their social media profiles.

It can also be any selfie, family photos or photos tagged by friends, sharing too much on social media makes private information more vulnerable.

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Like the perpetual existence of what is posted, parents need to remind their children that once they have posted anything on the Internet, the image/expression/video will not be retracted.

Even if your child deletes personal page name information, the old information can still be saved on someone else’s device (through screen capture, for example) and can be spread over the network later.

Sexting 

With an objective impact factor such as the development of cameras of smartphones to subjective factors such as curiosity, rebellion, the desire to be praised by others for their teenage bodies and from peer pressure, the status of sexting – sending, receiving and spreading explicit messages, images/videos.

This has increasingly been rejuvenating in the teen years. As a result, many children become confused with anxiety, depression, etc. when their image is spread across groups and chat forums.

sexting - digital footprint

Let your child know that any nudity of anyone under the age of 18 can be defined as child pornography. Sex attackers are increasingly targeting younger teens, sometimes infants, and the evidence is that so many teenage girls claim that they have to go through at least one guy who sent nude/semi-nude images to them.

Be careful when saying anything, even in a private group chat

A lot of kids often “let go” of all their worries and sorrows on social media, and this is never a good idea. Sending text messages, posting statuses to release their current anger can make them more satisfied than they are now, but they will have to feel guilty or regretful in the future. 

If your child is too impatient and unable to resist the temptation to speak and express to someone, press the power button to turn off all the devices. Then calm down and regain the neutral spirits.

Cyberbullying on social media

Shamming or hurting others is a very common occurrence on social media, known as cyberbullying. Tell your child to regularly read and re-read the messages, comments, descriptions, status they are about to send or post, because what they are going to make public can affect badly their friends, even make them commit suicide.

For example, according to a Harvard Crimson report, in a chat group, students sent each other memes and pictures that mocked sexual assault, the death of children, and more. Besides, some of the messages make jokes about child abuse as sexually arousing, while others contain content aimed at specific ethnic or racial groups.

After being informed of the conversation and its content, Harvard administrators took action by canceling applications for at least 10 members of the group.

What parents need to do?

Your child’s digital footprint can have a negative impact on their future if they’re not careful. Eg:

  • According to a CareerBuilder study, 70% of employers say they screen potential employees on social media and that what they find has an impact on hiring decisions.
  • And from that same CareerBuilder study, 51% of employers found content on social media that made them overlook a potential candidate.

The most common reasons are

  • Provocative or inappropriate information or pictures (46%)
  • Defame the past company or coworkers (36%)
  • Poor communication skills (32%).

Additionally, a survey from Kaplan found that 40% of college admissions officers visit a candidate’s social media sites when making a student selection decision.

help kids develop a positive digital footprint

One important thing that is mentioned throughout this article is this: The digital footprint will never be lost. So you need to remind your children to see this as an opportunity to show their best, for their relationship and future. Make your child feel responsible like this: “This is my digital footprint! I have to behave appropriately!”.

Also, you also need to regularly chat with your children to remind them that digital footprint will always exist on the Internet and ask them to consider carefully before sending messages, comments, share, post photos or personal information anytime and anywhere.

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