My earliest memories with digital identity can all be accredited to my dad. I remember being around 8 when Gmail first came out. all my friends had Hotmail accounts but my dad REFUSED to allow my me and my sister to have any other email account besides Gmail. You may be wondering: what about before Gmail? Well… it was good ol’ accesscomm.ca. I always felt a little left out when my friends would have Hotmail accounts and use all the features that weren’t compatible with acccescomm.ca. Another aspect of the email debacle was my dad (from the get go) ONLY allowed are emails to contain our first and last time (i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org) You have no idea, all I wanted as an 8-year-old girl was an email like sugarcupcake333 or bunnies4lyfe just like my friends.
I thought I had my golden opportunity when my dad said we were switching to Gmail, I thought yes finally I get to make the email I have always wanted. Think again. Yet another fight broke out with me begging and my dad refusing. I distinctly remember him telling me “an email is supposed to be who you are; are you a cupcake? Do you think anyone’s going to take you serious in life with an email like that?” Long story short my dreams were shattered and my email, to this day, is just my name. Although in the moment I may have viewed my dad as unreasonable and a little heartless as I’ve grown my outlook on it has shifted to gratitude. This is because throughout my schooling I have had many teachers compliment my professional email telling me that they would “hire me just off my email” As an adult I can now see that my dad was just trying to do what was best for his kids.
After doing some internet sleuthing this past week on myself and my fellow classmates, I have gained a greater awareness for the importance of digital citizenship. I feel like people often feel a sense of security when behind a screen, they are able to hide and say things that on their mind that they wouldn’t necessarily say in person. Saying that I believe as educators it is important that we teach our future students how to uphold a good digital identity. That means teaching all 9 aspects of digital citizenship. Read my post Are you a Good Digital Citizen? to hear about what 9 elements I think our most important and why.
All in all, I feel pretty lucky my dad had a lot of digital awareness when I was younger. He taught me that the digital world is just an extension of the real world and who I am online is who I am in person.