Kids today have access to the internet. There is no denying that. They have iPads, phones, snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, vsco; the list goes on and on. But do they know about digital identity? Do they know what it is and how it can affect them? Do they know how to avoid having it stolen? This week in class we took a look at it and today, I am going to be exploring digital identity a little further.
What is digital identity?
According to Techopedia a “digital identity is an online or networked identity adopted or claimed in cyberspace by an individual, organization or electronic device. These users may also project more than one digital identity through multiple communities.” Your digital identity can be anything from your facebook username and password to the things you purchased online. Everything you do online comes together to form your digital identity.
So why is it so important to teach kids about digital identity?
Digital identity is no different than your regular identity. Kids needs to be taught about both, and how both can affect you. Most kids these days are on the internet before they are born. I can’t even count the number of baby pictures and sonogram pictures that are popping up on my news feeds. Their digital footprint starts and continues to grow as they do. Parents constantly post about their children and their milestones and when the child gets to be old enough, they will have their own social media pages and will grow their digital identity. Which is why kids need to know how their digital identity can affect them because in today’s world, kids have access to the internet thanks to the cell phone and data plans. If I need to look something up, as long as I have service I can and the same goes for kids. I have seen kids as young as eight have a phone and kids even younger with tablets. They can navigate those things no problem! Sometime they teach me something and I like to think I have a pretty good grasp on things. Kids need to be taught how to positively use these devices to avoid negatively impacting their digital identity. A couple things that can be taught are:
- how easily their information can be accessed and potentially stolen. Teaching students about privacy settings and their importance may seem basic but it will only benefit them in the long run.
- changing passwords frequently and often, and never use the same one. I personally am guilty of both of these. I don’t change my passwords frequently enough and I am bad for using the same password (or a variation of it) for everything.
- once something is online, it is there forever. Even Snapchats are kept in a database despite the claim that they disappear after you open them. Sometimes kids do not understand that. Employers have been known to do Google searches of potential employees. We need to teach kids that that they need to be careful of what they post and make sure they have good security settings. No one wants their future employer finding that picture of drunk you passed out with sharpie moustache or that tweet that is full of swears and inappropriate language.
- not everyone online is who they say they are. Shows like Catfish prove this in some way every episode. Either the person lied about the way they look, their name and sometimes they turn out to be a completely different person! Kids need to be taught this as a reminder to keep your digital identity true to who you are.
The big question…Should digital identity be taught in schools?
Teaching about digital identity is something that should be incorporated into schools. Some teachers make a big production about teaching it and how they do not have the time for this and the curriculum. Well digital identity is just as important. Some kids may not care and tune you out. Some kids may whine about having to learn it because they think they know everything about the internet. Some kids may think it is the stupidest thing ever. However, kids still need to learn this stuff and there can be fun ways to have them learn and if we do not teach these kids about it and how to use the internet safely who will? Sure they have their parents but not all parents will teach it because some do not even understand it themselves. This is why it is important for teachers to take classes like EDTC 300 and EDTC 400 to better educate themselves so they can better educate their students about their digital identity and how to maintain a positive one. So to all of you reading this I am going to ask you one question…should digital identity be taught in schools? Hit me up in the comments as I would love to read other people’s opinions!