Digital Identities

This week, our group discussed the concept of online / digital identities within the umbrella of digital citizenship. I felt our group did a great job of presenting a variety of viewpoints when analyzing our digital identities.

Rae looked at Dr. Alec Couros‘ video Article #4, Brenda discussed young people’s social media interactions here Article #5, and Kate-Lynn showed us Article #3 which looks to define digital citizenship and identities. I took a look at the teacher digital identities and a quick video for students to look at digital footprints here: Article #1  Article #2

When I think back to my experiences with digital citizenship, I think of those sad sad Facebook status updates… before the “like” button…

The best thing that ever happened to Facebook was the creation of “Memories” where I could go in and delete stupid posts from yesteryear.

I did not have any digital citizenship lessons or guidance, and as a young person learning a digital world, it is easy to find questionable things posted on the internet. Luckily, I never said anything inappropriate or anything that could really come back to haunt me.

I think back to some of the discussions from EC&I 831 when looking at social media in the classroom. One of the rich discussions we had during class revolved around what should be considered when we look at people’s past. Should there be a Statute of Limitations when it comes to social media posts?

My online presence is fairly fake. I only say fake because I do not post very often, and anything that I do post is a big event or vacation with quality pictures that makes it look like I have a better social life than I really do (lol). My Twitter is pretty clean, Facebook has been tidied up and I rarely post, Instagram is locked down and also cleaned up to show only the best of the best. I use Snapchat to communicate with friends and family and I am only a spectator on TikTok… except for my Summary of Learning for EC&I831 where Victoria and I created TikToks to express our learning.

My students have a variety of social media platforms as well, and their digital identities are capturing more of their life than mine has been captured. When we talk about digital citizenship in class, I wonder how positive their interactions really are. As teachers, we usually only see the worst of the worst when things get out of hand online and we are involved to help mediate problems. I have seen some interesting things from my students online and I wonder if/how/when that will come back to bite them in the future. I agree when Alec says that we all make mistakes as kids, but up until now, these mistakes have never been recorded and saved…

I think young people really need to understand the long-term implications of their actions online. It takes the whole concept of adolescence feeling invincible to a whole new level. Screenshots, data collection, and words are saved forever and without the proper guidance, they are bound to make serious mistakes, and even with guidance, the long-term implications may be bleak.

It can be hard as a teacher to relinquish that control, as problems are bound to happen whether we collect every phone every day, or let them sit on their devices all day. I believe this record of information will be one of the greatest challenges of our youth today. Thoughts??

Thanks for reading!

10 thoughts on “Digital Identities

  1. Good thoughts Dalton! I was not aware of digital citizenship and how can we protect our Digital identity. I think we all are gaining some or the other knowledge about how to keep ourselves safe in this digital world and these discussions and learning is also helping us to keep our kids and elders aware of it. However, I really like the part of Facebook sharing past memories, it sometimes feels how the time is passing and a lot is changing.

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  2. It was a pleasure working with you, Rae and Katelyn on the content topic of Digital Identity. It was very interesting to think about the different perspectives. As a teacher, it is challenging sometimes to prompt students to consider the digital tattoo they may be creating when posting online and also to be mindful of what you yourself have posted on social media. As a Gen X-er, I am grateful to not have had social media to showcase some of the things I may have posted as a teenager, lol. I believe that most people post the “fake” version of themselves on social media and save the more controversial aspects with a pseudonym.

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  3. So much of what you said resonated with me, Dalton (especially about the Facebook status updates)! I have seen several people sharing how unnecessary their old Facebook statuses were, but this was also the trend of the time. Facebook itself prompted you to create your status that way through the way it was designed. I find what you said about being ‘fake’ online is interesting. I wouldn’t personally label what you describe as fake, just highly curated. All of the experiences you post about are real, but you are choosing to post the most exciting, interesting real events. I make this distinction because I think there are people out there who are, indeed, fake. They post pictures that are retouched, or pretend to be someone else entirely. I’ve noticed over the course of the pandemic that people are becoming a lot more open about mental health and their ‘real’ selves. They are posting about moments or mindsets that normally wouldn’t have been chosen to be shared online previously. I feel that we are ending the stigma of posting on the most perfect parts of our lives online and becoming more real and honest, albeit slowly.

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    1. That is a great point! Thanks for the correction. You are right… it is the highly curated content that people struggle with. I typically only post something of interest when it looks good, so I am guilty of this as well. As I think everyone is. I love seeing posts of peoples’ “real” selves… and I agree, I think some of the stigmas are changing in light of mental health, but it could definitely move faster! Thanks for the comment!

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  4. I enjoyed reading your post, Dalton. I find myself asking very similar questions, especially our generation plunked into the middle of social media with no guidance because we were the guinea pigs in some ways. Our parents were unaware, and back when I first started on social media, my parents tried to fill me with fear about the dangers rather than how to navigate. No-fault of their own because they were unfamiliar with the space themselves. But, as any good teenager did, they rebelled and thought they knew better than their parents. I remember my second year of university, realizing that what I post online could catch up with me. Unfortunately, by that point was already 6 years into making posts on my social media that I was not proud of. Hours of “scrubbing” my profiles that night and then having a sense of lasting fear to this day to commit to sharing on platforms. I am always cautious about what is posted about me online because I don’t want it to paint a different story than I am living.

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    1. 100% Durston. Thanks for the comment. I have done a few scrubs of social media. Not because anything I posted was necessarily “bad” but most of it is just useless stuff that has no place being recorded. Our youth will be faced with the same challenges of removing content as they get older, but the digital footprint seems harder to clean up these days. There were no such things as screenshots when we grew up – we could delete posts without someone having their own copy of it. And, as the great Billy Joel says, we didn’t start the fire, so this generation and the next will be faced with their own challenges of digital identities and record keeping.

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  5. What an interesting question you posed. In some ways, I think there should be. I mean, if something appears from when you were 13 and you’re now in your 30s, is it relevant anymore? I mean, I guess you should have gone in and deleted it, but even then, it still is on the web somewhere. Everything that gets posted literally stays forever. F-O-R-E-V-E-R… like The Sandlot’s definition of forever. Yes, I guess it was something you said and you should probably acknowledge it and apologize, but should you really be taken to the cleaners and potentially lose your job and such for something that happened decades ago? I hate the statute of limitations for criminal cases like sexual abuse, but I somehow am feeling a bit on the fence with this one. Very interesting point. Have you taken this to the Twitter masses? I wonder what the conversations would look like there.

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