Your digital footprint

I live in an iWorld.  I’m surrounded by computers that double as phones, and phones that double as computers. My first port of call in the morning is to insert my coffee IV then check my emails.  It’s my reality and I love it.

One thing that concerns me is my children’s generation and their seamless connection with the online and offline world.  There is no on/off line to them.  It’s all one and the same.  So how do we impress upon them the importance of their digital footprint and the fact that what they write/post/tweet today will be there FOREVER.  F. O. R. E. V. E. R.

I recently attended a Michael Carr-Gregg seminar talking about raising teens in today’s world.  He recanted the following story that really intrigues me:

Mia Freedman was looking for a PA.  From the many applicants she whittled the list down to the final six.  One of her current assistants went away with those names and Googled each of them separately.  One had posted half-naked pics of herself online.  Crossed off the list.  Another had bitched about her boss online.  Crossed off the list.  So it went on until there was only one name left in the ring. Only one of those applicants didn’t have a black mark against her digital name.

To be honest this doesn’t surprise me.  I see fully grown adults posting questionable information online, let alone someone barely allowed to vote.  How can they know any better?  How can we impress upon them the importance of what they’re doing?

Once something is online, it’s there forever.  You can delete it, but it’s never truly gone.  There’ll be a cached copy, someone will have sent it onto a friend, someone else will have taken a screen-shot of it…It’s there FOREVER.

Raising children in a house where I spend a heck of a lot of time on a computer, and a good chunk of that on social media, I’m very aware of keeping the lines of communication open with my daughter.  She understands about Facebook, she knows she can’t have an account until she’s 13 (despite the fact that so many children have them) and there’s no question on anything I won’t answer when my kids ask.  My job is to educate them about the reality of their digital footprint…how?

Tips for educating our youth about their digital footprint:

1. Don’t lie.  Don’t EVER lie to kids.  They are a lot brighter than we are, and they will distrust you when they catch you out.  “Why can’t I have a Facebook account?”.  “Because that’s the rule, you have to be 13”.  Not: “The computer won’t allow it”.  They’re literal beings.  When they discover Johnny down the street has a FB account, you’re busted.  HIS computer will allow it…therefore, Mum/Dad lied.

2. Start early.  I talk to my children about drugs and alcohol despite the fact they’re WAY off having any interactions with either substance.  I also talk to them about Social Media despite the fact they are WAY off having accounts.  The earlier we get the conversation started the better.

3. Monitor accounts.  I hear conflicting ideas about this, but I’m a firm believer in monitoring my kids’ online activities.  Sure they can be on Facebook, Twitter, whatever when they’re old enough: as long as I can see what they’re doing.  There’s no difference in the fact that I’ll monitor their tv/movie viewing or where they go out while they’re still young.  As a parent, I believe it’s my duty to guide them and I can’t do that if I don’t know what they’re doing.   I’m not their friend, I’m their parent.

4. Understand social media yourself.  I have several friends who HATE facebook and twitter.  They curse everyone who dares to share their information and they think the world is going down the toilet due to SM.  In turn, they tell their children that they’re not allowed on there.  Ever.  “Not under my roof”.  I think this is burying your head in the sand and will cause more harm than good.  I know the things I did as a teen, and they make me cringe!  I did some of them because they were expressly forbidden.  I needed to see why there was such a hoo haa about them.  Understanding the ways in which our children communicate will help us much more than simply saying NO.

5. Understand your online persona.  I have several personal and business related social media accounts.  However, I NEVER write things on my personal FB account without the realisation that my clients could easily see it too.  Don’t get me wrong, my accounts have security, but it just takes one person to share my status/tweet and the world can see it.  I’ve seen several racist posts recently related to our immigration issues here in Australia on people’s personal FB pages.  It makes me think MUCH less of them as business people.  Racism is racism regardless of whether you spout it on personal or company time.  Your online persona is made up of ALL the things you put on the internet. We need to explain this to our children too – what they write today will be there for their future boss/partner/friends to see.

This is an area I really want to reasearch more thoroughly this year, but these are some basic tips in understanding our digital footprint and helping our children understand theirs too.


The Organised Housewife

Image credits: Image 1   Image 2



  1. Julianne Wilde says:

    This topic/subject is so important to both us as parents and to children growing up in the digital world. This is a subject which I find extremely interesting too. I really enjoyed reading this post.

  2. Great Post. As a high school teacher, I know the potential issues SM can have, but it can also be a great tool for teaching and learning, and lots of fun too. Ignoring the issues associated with SM doesn’t make them go away. One of my former colleagues now runs seminars for parents to educate them about appropriate use of SM and how to help their children maintain an appropriate digital foot print.

    • It’s so important to for kids to be educated on it rather than be told “no – stay away from social media”. We are trying to arrange a seminar at our local school for the kids and parents. The school is signing up for Esmart, but as an added extra our P&F group are arranging a separate seminar. I’m really passionate about this as you can tell!

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