In today’s class, we discussed the fact that teachers hold a lot of power and thus, have control over what we consider a priority – what is important – in our classrooms. There is no doubt that technology has become quite predominant in education over the past couple of decades. As educators strive to remain innovative, engaging, and relevant in their profession, technology has become a tool that allows them to reach these goals when teaching their students. I do not believe anyone in the education sector is questioning the relevance of using technology in the classroom. However, as we examined in class today, there is a question pertaining to the role educators play when introducing different technologies to their students; more precisely, are we as educators responsible for teaching our students to act accordingly online while helping them establish a digital footprint?
Jeffrey Rosen article entitled The Web Means the End of Forgetting pushes us to consider “how to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing — where every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever” (2010). This statement is powerful, and I feel our children/youth need to understand that their digital trails and digital footprints can not be erased and can be accessed long after they might not want them to be available. Something I discuss with my daughter and have gone over with her since she started using technology was that once something is on the Web, it is there for good and can not be removed. In a way, it is sad that teens at present need to come to terms that the internet along with their digital footprints prohibit their behaviour and actions from staying under the radar. I have always voiced that I am glad we did not have social media when I was younger to broadcast our daily activities and many of my friends share this sentiment along with the opinion that we had privacy growing up. It is no secret that children/teenagers do not have the best judgment and that it is during those stages of life that children/adolescents make many mistakes while transitioning to adulthood. No one is perfect and we can all attest that on our way to becoming respected members of society, we committed many mistakes; the difference between my generation and that of our youth today is that their mistakes are being continuously recorded and broadcasted which does not allow people to forget or forgive their transgressions (Rosen, 2010).
Paul Davis’ TEdTalk “Accountability & Responsibility in a Digital World” also provided some insightful information regarding digital trails and digital footprints. He starts off his video with a simple question and encourages his audience to consider the reasons that children might get in trouble when using technology. When I started to reflect on the previous question, I came up with one predominant answer that revolved around the notion that children are not being taught or guided to act responsibly when establishing their digital trails and digital footprints. Parents teach and guide their children whenever they are encountering something new. For example, I taught my daughter how to cross the street – I taught her how to stop and look both ways before crossing and we practiced numerous times before she was “old” enough to do it on her own. I held her hand and guided her so she would be prepared to cross the street responsibly on her own when the time came. The same principle applies to teaching and guiding our children to use technology responsibly. Davis explains that it is parents’ responsibility to guide children when engaging with technology because they put the technology into their hands. He also highlights the importance of explaining the concepts of responsibility and accountability to kids. It is important for kids to understand that they are responsible for their actions and that they should want to act responsibly when dealing with technology while considering if their actions would make their parents proud. Furthermore, he proceeds to explain that adults have an ethical and moral obligation to guide children when dealing with technology.
I feel that parents should be responsible for helping their children create their digital footprints. Parents can help guide kids toward creating the kind of footprint they can be proud of by following these steps: 1) being a role model to their children; 2) explaining the use of privacy settings to protect their information; 3) discussing the type of image they would like to portray online; and 4) taking turns to search yourselves to see what information pops up” (Common Sense Media, 2018). I wholeheartedly believe that educators play a role in teaching digital citizenship at school and can set guidelines for students when using technology at school. Nonetheless, the task of helping kids develop a digital footprint should be the responsibility of parents and should start at home. Teachers can assist, teach, and guide students while they are at school, but once children leave the classroom their online activity is out of our hands. In all honesty, once kids gain access to technology, their online activity is out of our hands and that is why it is crucial that adults take on the responsibility of teaching and guiding children to develop their digital footprints in a responsible manner where they are being held accountable for their actions.