Digital footprint- it’s a relatively new concept but an increasingly important one. People’s digital footprint can have a significant impact on areas like career progression and general areas of personal privacy. This goes for adults and children alike. The full impact of digital footprint is only now beginning to be researched and it will be a number of years before the full extent of the impact of our digital footprint is known. So, how do you make your child aware of and explain, the concept of digital footprint?

Here are the Zeeko top tips for explaining digital footprint:

Build an awareness of digital footprint as early as possible: The sooner you start a conversation about digital footprint the better. Children are understandably unaware of the implications of the content they post and share online. Information shared online can be easily edited, changed and can sometimes lead to a misrepresentation. Helping your child to understand that content they share is not always as private as they may think is an important start in helping them to understand the concept of a digital footprint.

Privacy online is different to privacy offline: It’s very likely that you have already spoken to your child about the importance of privacy in aspects of their life that don’t relate to the online world. Privacy, it is very different when it comes to the internet. It is important that children understand that content they share cannot be easily deleted, particularly permanently deleted. For older children and teenagers another element is linked to being fully conscious of what they are sharing when they are online. It is a real challenge when we live in a world where sharing lots of elements of our lives via social media is now seen as normal. Remind your teen of the importance of not over sharing and of being very careful of how much they share when they are online.

Digital Footprint leaves a mark: Needless to say the concept of a footprint is that it leaves a lasting mark. One of the things we see regularly when we visit schools throughout the country to talk about staying safe online, is that many children and teenagers are unaware of the long term implications of their digital footprint. Everyone has hopes and dreams about what they want to do when they are older. Increasing numbers of employers and even 3rd level institutions in the US in particular, now pay close attention to the social media profiles of potential employees and/or students before offering a job or a place in college. It is important that your child understands that the profiles they create online can be viewed by others and that the content can impact their future prospects. Building awareness is the key to making smart choices when it comes to the long term implications of digital footprint.

If it looks too good to be true it usually is: Perspective is incredibly important when it comes to what is shared online. Children often don’t have the maturity to be able to separate fact from fiction. Not everything that is online is real! Regularly remind your child of this. Encourage them to spend time interacting with their friends in more traditional ways, i.e. face to face rather than online.

The concept of digital footprint is here to stay. It is how it is explained and manage that will be of most importance for your child.