The Digital India initiative by the Government of India is aimed at ushering in a digitally empowered society. One of the core components of Digital India is bringing about digital literacy, the ability to use digital devices and interact in social networks, while adhering to online behavioral norms.
In this context, our next generation needs to learn a very important concept, that of digital footprints, and how to maintain a healthy digital reputation.
We all know digital footprints ensures what we say online will always remain online but what constitutes digital reputation? It is made up of everything that a person shares about themselves and others online -both written and pictorial that helps others cyber citizens to form an opinion about him/her. Given that both digital footprint and digital reputation have long term consequences, it is important for you to advise your children that their digital reputation depends on THEM.
They are creating the content that is on their social media pages. Their posts, comments, responses, photos and videos create a digital image of them that may or may not be desirable. They are therefore responsible for the way the cyber citizens perceive them.
Does digital reputation matter? Oh yes, it certainly does. In the increasingly interconnected world, people across the globe might never really get to meet you in person and discover for themselves your real nature. So, they tend to seek information about you online – be it for jobs, college admission or even for signing up on a hiking group. Why not take a critical look at all your social media accounts and see for yourself as others see you online and decide, do you like all that you see?
A few things that tweens and teens usually do that may affect their digital reputation:
- Follow their peer: often leads to sharing of false content, embarrassing videos or photos or even cyberbullying of a hapless victim
- Push boundaries: Curiosity drives them to veer to unexplored sites and/or check out inappropriate content, and even share the same with friends. If they become a victim of spam, this fact will be shared with all social media friends
- Search for free content: The kids want to download posters, movies, songs or games for free and thus stand the risk of falling prey to malware attacks
- Trust easily: This is why online predators find it easy to impress youngsters and earn their trust
- Give privacy a short-shrift: Kids brashly disregard security messages, thinking they are savvy enough to keep off risky sites. But cyber criminals are way cleverer than them and hence find it easy to compromise their accounts and misuse them.
And lastly apart from being conscious of the above, the one cyber safety skill we need to remind our kids is: to STOP. THINK. SHARE. online