When initially thinking about digital identity, a few things come to mind:
- It is complex!
- What is my identity? Is it current/reflective of who I am today?
- How does it change over time?
- How do we help students really understand its importance and consequences for the present and future?
- What will it look like in the future when my kids grow up?
On its surface, digital identity seems pretty straightforward. Underneath, as @Brendafredgirl points out, there is much more to it than I would have initially thought. As the Government of Canada says, “A digital identity is essentially the electronic equivalent of your identity in the physical world.” Simple right. It becomes a little more complex when you consider the implications of a digital identity – identification, authentication, security… My understanding of the concept is beginning to move away from the general what I post on facebook thoughts to more serious thoughts of passwords and identity protection.
My digital identity is much different now than it was when I go back 20 or so years to when it began. Years ago, I basically cleansed (I think? I hope!) my facebook timeline of old. Not that there were inappropriate things, I just didn’t find it necessary to have them visible anymore. All that remains are mainly birthday wishes from 11 years ago and older. I was in university before I got into facebook, so I thankfully missed out on it in my high school days. The only identity I had in high school was through MSN Messenger. I remember going into chat rooms and talking complete strangers about curling. It is scary to think that back then I would easily tell people where I was from and other personal details. I look back at myself in shame when I think about some of the things I did back then that I would never do now and would never let my own kids do. It does bring back some memories though!
Throughout and after university facebook was really the only social media platform I used. It, email, and texting basically made up my digital identity. For the most part, they were used as communication tools and time killers. Pictures to look at, ways to see what people from my past were up to. Towards the end of my university career, I opened a Twitter account for a conference I attended. I had to send out a tweet to be entered to win a prize. I still use this account personally, but that one tweet remains the only one I have ever sent.
While I still have a facebook and, now, two Twitter accounts (one personal, one professional), my digital identity in this respect remains fairly limited. My personal accounts are complete time wasters. I don’t post and I spend too much time on them procrastinating from doing real work. I am slowly dipping my toes into the water on posts with my professional Twitter account. While I want to use it as a platform to bring awareness to social justice issues that I find important I am still hesitant because of some of the conflict and opposing views that can come with doing that. @lovepreet7001 made mention of these challenges. I just don’t have the time or energy to deal with people who will attack me for my beliefs and ways of thinking. And I also don’t care to get into online debates with people whom I disagree with. Perhaps I need to explore how to use my social media for purposes of uniting people. Easier said than done?!?!
Perhaps where I need to take my learning next with my digital identity is into the world of identity protection and security. It is actually quite scary to think of how much of our lives are online and accessible. Banking information, health records, addresses, loved ones…they are all out there. I hope I am not too naïve in thinking that all of that information is properly protected. Stories like this one that happened right here in Saskatchewan scare me. I definitely need to check in to some password protection and security measures to make sure my information is as safe as possible. Bitwarden as referenced by Alec might be a good place to start.
As I look to the future, I almost fret to think of what digital identity will look like when my toddler is old enough to become part of the online world. Will he be prepared? What do I need to do to prepare him to understand his identity and how it fits into the overall picture of being a good digital citizen?