It’s pretty well known that the internet is full of seedy corners and dark pathways, filled with people and programs that are there to entice and exploit. Even though most adults are aware of this, it’s not usually in the forefront of our minds when we use the internet. This is probably due to the fact that we are never fully off the internet, at least not for very long, and we use it so often and for the most common and trivial things that it seems harmless. If this is the case for most adults, think of the implications that discreetly hidden but dangerous intentions of enormous groups of intelligent people, might have on impressionable and naive children and teens.
The risk may seem dismal and unlikely to happen to you but with kids using the internet at an increasingly younger age, becoming more attached to their devices and WiFi connections and turning to the web more frequently, the risk rises of getting taken advantage of increases greatly for the upcoming generations.
Just like in anything else, the more you know about the internet, its working and its dangers, the more safe and the less vulnerable you become. But who’s job is it to inform, and therefore protect students? The parents? Their educators? Both? The question of who the responsibility falls on is always present when a subject reaches outside the walls of the schools and into the real world. The “who” isn’t important as long as it is getting done and if a parent has already warned their child, a reminder from another authoritative figure is never a bad thing. The saying “it takes a village…” applies equally to digital citizenship as it does to all aspects of education.
My Digital Footprint
For most of my high school years, I was planning on playing sports in college. When this dream started taking form- I was going to scouting camps, talking to coaches, getting offers-I realised how serious it was to be responsible with what you put on the internet and what you associate with your name. The first thing an institution would do if they were interested in signing you, was google your name and assess you digital footprint. Scouts told us that they have dropped too many players and prospective players to count because of what they put on the internet. The same can be said about a prospective employer and while an injury prevented me from playing, I learned a very important lesson that will continue to serve me as I step into the world of education.
My accounts are private and I am aware of what my friends share that include me. I feel pretty secure in that I don’t have any negative things associated with me online but until the beginning of my education technology class, I didn’t have much to show in the way of positive engagement in the educational community either. Becoming more active, using twitter and pinterest, and blogging and reading blogs, has really made me realise the benefit interacting with other educators outside of those in your community. I have made real connections with other educators all through screens. Being able to experience parts of educational systems at home and around the world, to learn from so many people all with varying backgrounds and circumstances, is not only useful as an educator but as a young person who is trying to develop their teaching style and educational pedagogy.