In my learning project post I touched on the idea of digital identity. In my case I’m thirty four years old and just now making my first foray into the world of social media. Just how much information about me is out there. So I took a deep breath and Googled myself…As it turns out there are about 6,430 results for a basic search for my name. Of course there are the usual suspects, a blurb from my employer (Saskatchewan Polytechnic), my twitter account ( which has been active for 3 weeks now), this blog and of course my Facebook profile. There were a few surprises. including a LinkedIn account I forgot about, a couch surfing site I haven’t accessed since a trip to Iceland in 2008 and (if you direct your attention to the middle of the screen shot a profile on Ancestry. co.uk that proclaims I am the father of zero children ( I assure you barring some sort of DNA test this is no longer the case). The image search turned up some pictures of family members and not much else. Nothing earth shattering really. I mean, I wasn’t expecting Gangnam Style or Numa Numa level results, but I did find it a bit surprising.
Here I am yapping on the internet about how I don’t have much of a digital identity (I assure you the irony of that statement doesn’t escape me) while all the while I have been leaving digital footprints. I just never stopped to think how big my feet were. So why is this important? Perhaps it would be more accurate for me to say I haven’t been an active participant in decontaminating my digital information. That is to say I haven’t been actively seeking a digital identity, however, over time a semblance of one has formed without my active participation. I have blogged recently about considerations regarding social media for new nursing students…
I will reiterate that developing a digital identity is a skill that this class is teaching me. It has been enlightening to read the work of my classmates whose viewpoints strike a cord with me. Joe wrote about the power that social media has to mobilize people to take social action ( his post can be found here. As a self confessed social media noob and introvert, I sometimes overwhelmed with the process of becoming functionally literate in the language of social media. At times it is easy for me to forget the awesome potential that social media has as a platform for positive social action and that it isn’t all Tinder profiles and cat videos. I also enjoyed Jaque’s post that in part gives a first hand account of the evolution of her digital foot print ( her post can be found here .) I found it to be an excellent reflection on the evolution of online influence and the impacts it has on our communication with others.
This whole experience has caused me to reflect on what the concept of a digital identity will mean for my kids. I’ve thought about this a lot since our last class. My eldest daughters are 5 years old. They already know what a selfie is. They know how to chat and they are comfortable using an iPhone. How will social media evolve to shape their digital identities? I suppose the biggest difference between myself and my kids regarding digital identity is this, whereas I am surprised to have passively developed a digital footprint, for my children this will be just another part of growing up. I thought back to our last lecture and remembered the idea that our online lives are merging with our social lives. How much does our online persona impact our views of ourselves and vice versa? What implications does this have for parents of young children?
I will say that I am not fearful of having my kids grow up in a digital age. However, I do wonder how this will impact their lives as they age. The risks associated with internet use by children are well documented . In my opinion, the best thing I can do with my kids is to show them that the internet isn’t something to be feared. However, it is something requires thought and attention on their part.
I suppose this is no different then helping your kids learn to ride a bike. In order to do it safely and effectively you have to develop the skill. Adapting to a digital medium would be similar. This is a difficult subject for me to think about as a parent. I mean I’m 34 years old and I forgot about an entire LinkedIn account! Never mind that, couch surfing in Iceland what was I thinking?!? All kidding aside, maybe documenting my own trials as a stumble through the world of social media and digital identity will help me as I prepare to help my kids navigate the digital landscape doubt we may face a few of the same challenges. I would very much like to hear any thoughts from other parents out there! Thank you for taking the time to read this. See you in class!