Last week we rolled out the use of #ameshighpride to all students at the high school through homeroom. Teachers were introduced too the use of the hashtag in the fall and there have been a lot of great posts using that tag before we rolled it out to students. There are a couple reasons why we pushed this out and are using this with students in a public way. We want to have an avenue to discuss digital citizenship and what it means for them, as well as a way to help create a positive digital footprint for ourselves and our community.
Students, and adults, spend a considerable amount of time using social media but may not always think about how their posts can affect them, now or in the future. It has become common practice for employers, and colleges, to do a search for candidates on social media to get a better idea of the person they have to make a decision about whether to hire, or accept into their institution. Some companies, and colleges, are even using social media as the main decider when making decisions as they believe that the posts that a person makes will show a lot about them.
While students, and adults, need to be aware of the pitfalls that negative digital footprints can have on on their lives, we must also be able to view the ability of social media to be used for good. We can use social media to connect with others as we learn together, to raise awareness of an issue or campaign, to build community around a central topic in a digital world, and to promote ourselves and who we are. We should be able to be proud of what we post and not be afraid of what others might think when they read the tweets or comments we make online. We should know that social media, just like any other tool, can be used for good if that is how we are using it.
It all comes down to the decisions we make every time we post online. Before you send that tweet or post that comment, think about the following questions.
- How will others, especially those who do not know me in person, view me based on what I post?
- How will I feel about this post a year or two from now?
- How will future employers or colleges view me after seeing my posts?
- Am I proud enough of what I am posting to put my full name behind it?
- How will what I am posting affect others, such as those who I include in the post?
- Am I affecting someone’s ability to get hired or into college because of what I am posting about them?
- How will my (parent/friend/grandparent/teacher/family) view me after seeing what I post?
- Is my digital footprint something that can help me, or hurt me?
We do not have to be afraid of using social media, but we do need to be aware of what having a negative digital footprint can do to us, now and in the future. There is a permanency to what we put online and we lose control over it once it is out there. As soon as someone retweets or saves your post, you have lost the ability to remove it so you better make sure it is something that you want out there. A hammer can be used to build a house but it can also be used to tear a house down. Just like any tool, social media can be used for as much good as it can be for bad. How are you going to use this powerful tool?