Posts Tagged ‘Digital identity’

Ever Googled yourself? Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 1.29.42 PM Of course you have… perhaps the question should be more specific: Have you ever Googled yourself and, by using various search tools and terms, discovered more than might pop up on the first screen of 10 items? Recently I had some Year 9 students in my mentor (tutor) group do just this. Their reactions were amusing and revealing; thinking that they knew all this, then discovering how far the rabbit hole went. Rather than coming in on the well-honed negative of “anything bad you do online will be online for life”, I came at it on a different tack. Why not see it in a positive light. Rather than warning about “screwing up on FB”, promote it as a way of setting up your digital identity. On the basis that future employers (and possibly partners?) can and will check you out, why not develop your digital character? Here are three areas and methods to help students see how far their digital footprints go:- –

  • start with the basics: if in a different country to the United States, use the country suffix in the search (e.g. for, if a number of people share your name, use minus (-) to help remove them from the search, particularly if you can identify where they are (such as a State/County/Province or suburb), if it is different from you. Use inverted commas for some or all of the terms.
  • put in past connections: one student discovered that, because he played representative water polo, there were competition results from five years ago that contained his name. He was ten at the time. What hobbies, sporting groups, memberships, clubs and the like do your students have now (or have had in the past)?
  • click on images: there might not be much here worth promoting, as opposed to the likely avalanche of Facebook photos. Maybe look to suggest that developing 2-3 images as profile images (or even fewer) is a good idea. This way the ‘best side’ of you will be the one to come up at the top of the search, because how frequently it has been linked and posted to in the internet.

Then, of course, it becomes a question of setting the students up for the future. In my case, they have between 5-10 years, depending on study choices and opportunities. What this means is that there is time to develop your digital profile. I have students doing community service, volunteering with sporting groups, undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh bronze medallion courses, doing work experience. All of it counts, and, most likely, all of it will be visible for future employers and the like. Encourage the students to find ways of celebrating positive achievements, appropriately and in the right forum, online. Isn’t that a better way of looking at building students’ connections with the internet, rather than trying to fix a problem after the social disaster has occurred?

I thought for a bit about the image that I’ve used here – whether I should avoid using “me” as the example – and realised this is exactly what I’m talking about – if you’d wanted to find this out about me, Google can give you the information is 0.21 seconds. And I’m pretty happy with how my digital self appears…