I was reminded this week about how important it is for us as educators to be ‘living’ and working in our students’ digital world. I went into a 9th grade class this past week and wrote about it in my last post ‘What your digital footprint says about you‘. During this presentation my biggest ‘aha’ moment was the way students decided who to accept as a friend when requests came in. Probably 85% of the students said that they decide who to accept solely by mutual friends. “I look at mutual friends and if there are some I friend that person”, I heard this time and time again. When I asked, “So even if you have no idea who this person is, if they are a friend of one of your other friends you accept them into your ‘inner circle?” they agreed, yes that is what they do. Most didn’t even check out the person’s profile, but simply allowed others to make this decision for them. This surprised me a little. When I started my second day presentation I started with the prezi below because I didn’t think they understood the ramifications of that action.
The other big ‘aha’ came days after my presentation when I got the notes that the students sent me. Many of them said that they didn’t know about phishing, or about what identity thefts found on the web and how they could use it to steal identities. They also said they really didn’t think it was a big deal to just blindly accept ‘friends’, or to use mutual friends but now they ‘get it’. Some of their comments were:
I think that it was important to realize the good and bad of social networking. It was nice to change my privacy settings, I feel much more secure online.
I learned that everything you post online stays online forever.
I have never been told that if you are asked to sign in again it could be a scam.
I learned to make sure I know who are my friends on facebook. I also learned that I want to have a positive digital footprint!
So my biggest ‘aha’ was that if I wasn’t actively involved with my own digital footprint, or social networking online I wouldn’t know the kinds of phishing scams and privacy setting issues that they are dealing with. I could have gotten up in front of them and told them to be safe, and watch what they post online, but they have heard that before. They needed real examples and someone who understands the kinds of things they run across online. During the presentation I shared video clips and real stories to emphasize online safety, security, cyberbullying, and how they can develop their own positive digital footprint. This is why it is so important to ‘be an educator that gets it’. Our students need guidance from others that understand the world they live in. For that reason we must stay current and cultivate our own positive footprint.