The Impact of Digital Footprints

Yes, everything we do on the internet is transparent, and I’m lucky that I was in my forties when I started social networking. That’s because, yes, I was a bit of a wild child in my twenties, not in a reckless way, but I may have posted pictures at parties if I had the opportunity back then. Well, as they say, that was then, and this is now, and I’ve been very responsible as to what others see on sites like Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. In fact, I ask that friends and family do not tag me in pictures on Facebook and Instagram, and quite frankly, they become annoyed, but I like the freedom of choosing what is posted. However, with that said, even though I can keep tagged photos off of my Timeline in Facebook, apparently, I can’t keep them off Facebook. In fact, I just untagged a photo that, quite honestly, was just a terrible photo of me. Yes, even at my age, I still have a bit of vanity! However, the point is that everything that is put on the internet becomes a part of our digital footprint, and I’ve always been aware of that. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I’ve been pretty careful.

In the past, I have researched what my own digital footprint says about me, but I usually add information to the search because my name is pretty generic: Cynthia Mills, and if you do not know my maiden name and you Google me, you might mistake me for the Cynthia Mills who was just arrested in a “murder for hire case” in Maryland, or for the numerous Dr. Cynthia Mills that exist out there, although I plan to become Dr. Cynthia Mills one day anyway, so I guess that is okay. I’ve often teased my husband about how common the name Mills is and that I wish I had kept my maiden name, but it’s probably a good thing. When I add other key terms to the search, for example, Cynthia Mills edtech, a lot of my course work for this Masters program appears, but I’m proud of that, so I guess I don’t mind it too much, though it is a bit creepy.

My anxiety about digital footprints really is for my students; in fact, I am very concerned about their future and how their digital footprints will follow them. After my students graduate, I often receive friend requests from them on Facebook, and I accept them. Although some students are diligent about their posts and “get it,” there are so many who don’t, and their posts are often inappropriate. This worries me, especially after reading the information on the webpage, Follow your Digital Footprint. http://www2.huhs.org/library/pathfinders/footprint/footprints.html-Kids just have no idea, so I’m actually going to post this link on my FB page tonight! I really hope they read it. I don’t want to see them work so hard in college, but fail to get hired because of their immaturity and carelessness on social media sites.

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