When I initially looked at this week’s topics and assignments, I thought that it would be a week of reviewing information with which I already feel comfortable. I preach to my students on a regular basis about the importance of understanding their digital footprints and how their online activity can affect their futures. Little did I know there is more to this concept than simply avoiding irresponsible posts. The Internet at this point is a well-oiled machine that affects our personal, professional, and educational lives, and there is a lot that we as consumers should do to ensure our online representations of us are accurate and positive.
Before this week, I was not fully aware of the potential control service providers and search engines have over what we see on the Internet. I am thankful that the Federal Communications Commision (2015) created and enforces the Open Internet rules to “protect free expression and innovation on the Internet.” Without this, our schools and we as individuals might be paying more for our Internet services or receiving unfair speed for certain sites depending on what they pay these companies. This could be disastrous for newer or less prolific schools who cannot afford faster services (Long, 2015). I never knew this was a potential issue, but I was aware of the privacy issues that exist for people and their online activity. Despite knowing this, I fit into the ninety-one percent of people who know this is an issue still do not make changes to increase their privacy (Madden & Rainie, 2015). This reinforces the need for me to teach my students how to protect themselves online from others while at the same time protecting themselves from their own actions.
It is obvious that our world is consumed by technology, which can be a positive or negative thing as displayed this week. According to Lenhart’s (2015) research, “24% of teens go online ‘almost constantly.’” I believe part of the issue with this is that people who do this have difficulty making meaningful interactions with others because they are always online. YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, and Google itself have become obsessions that are negatively impacting personal and educational lives, when these technologies should be increasing availability and learning. Nickolas Negroponte’s TED (2014) video displays this as less fortunate children were able to learn about complex technologies with nothing more than a tablet and each other. There is a fine balance that needs to be taught and upheld so students can make good decisions and become strong digital citizens.
This balance can be evaluated by someone’s digital footprint, as I discovered this week. I am extremely careful about what I post and what others post about me online; however I have not searched my own name in quite some time and was surprised by the outcome. Realizing that even I had a somewhat negative review on RateMyTeachers reinforces my need to increase how often I speak to my students about their intentional and unintentional digital footprints. To be a good digital citizen and protect yourself does not just mean to pay attention to what you do, but it also means to be aware of everything online that could represent you in any way. This is the surprising truth that I can take away from this week. I must teach my students to protect themselves by actively participating in the impact technology has on their reputations.
Federal Communications Commision (2015). Open internet. Retrieved from https://www.fcc.gov/general/open-internet
Lenhart, A. (2015, April 9). Teens, social media & technology overview 2015. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/
Long, C. (2015). What net neutrality means for students and Educators. Retrieved from http://neatoday.org/2015/03/11/net-neutrality-means-students-educators/
Madden, M., & Raine, L. (2015). Americans’ attitudes about privacy, security and survellance. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/05/20/americans-attitudes-about-privacy-security-and-surveillance/
TED. (2014, July 8). A 30-year history of the future: Nicholas Negroponte [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5b5BDoddOLA