Digital Permanence

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Citizenship in the Digital Age

Parents are often urged to talk to their kids about how to be a good digital citizen. But how does that relate to citizenship in general and how do the characteristics of a good citizen parallel — and differ from — those of a good digital citizen? This infographic can help start a discussion with your kids.

Digital Footprint? Try Digital Tattoo, Experts Say

In the past, when introducing the concept of digital citizenship, teachers and parents have talked about the idea of a digital footprint—the “tracks” kids leave behind as they interact on social media and publicize information about themselves online. Experts are now saying the more accurate term to use is  “digital tattoo,” to emphasize the idea that any information they put online is permanent and cannot be undone.

Teens Worry About Privacy Too

There is a misconception that young people don’t care about privacy, but research is showing that just isn’t the case. The latest take on the subject is shown in a small, but in-depth study by Claire Fontaine of the Data & Society Institute. The study finds that young adults (16-20)  are very aware of online privacy, spend “significant time managing how they present themselves on social media”, and worry about what digital footprints they leave behind.

Perhaps most eye opening about this study is Fontaine’s take on schools and the message they are sending out on privacy. She contends that schools frame online privacy for students as primarily a matter of personal responsibility, which these days really isn’t true. That’s because Silicon Valley's current business practices and a lax regulatory environment can make anyone who participates in life online vulnerable no matter how safety conscious they are. She also feels schools are falling behind in their adoption of new technology and therefore failing to keep up with their students. That failure to keep up makes it harder for teachers and administrators to guide students who have concerns, leaving them alone to wrestle with huge questions about privacy, data collection and distribution that—if recent headlines are any indication—even the adults and institutions in society are ill-positioned to handle.

This interview with the author of the study further explains the findings of the study. As Fontaine puts it, we are seeing the “adultification of teenage-hood. “ We tell kids that online privacy is a matter of personal responsibility, but the truth is that it is likely that no amount of personal responsibility can completely secure your privacy and security online. That means a much better discussion to have with kids is about the tradeoffs associated with the technologies we use. That’s not an easy task, obviously, but undeniably more realistic.”

Doing a Finsta

Here is another vocabulary word for your ongoing discussions with your teen about the world of social media, “Finsta.” In the same kind of move that teens have employed for years on Facebook, creating one Facebook page for public consumption and another for their more private revelations, teens who want to post more freely on Instagram start fake, secret accounts known as "Finstas”. This is a combo of the words “fake” and “Instagram.” Teen’s Finsta accounts are typically more unfiltered than their regular Instagram accounts, and are designed to get around those parental and teacher warnings about being careful what you post because school and college administrators, parents, potential employers and others could view it. The term has been around a while but because Instagram seems to be the hotbed of cyberbullying these days, it has surfaced once again.

 

On the positive side, such acts of digital self-surveillance make sense against the backdrop of widespread media coverage of social media gaffes that teens have probably heard about or witnessed. This includes employees losing their jobs after publishing a distasteful image or a tactless tweet, or a teen losing a spot on a sports team, or a school leadership role because of sexually charged or derogatory items they posted online. But at its worst, Finsta accounts warp into a space where anonymous users hide scandalous or sexual behavior or partake in cyberbullying.

 

One other thing that you and your teens should know is that even if what a user posts is part of a private Finsta account with an anonymous username, account creators can be traced back by analyzing followers and Instagram activity. And those seemingly private posts can easily surface online if anyone takes a screenshot or records a video of the content. Once again, it can be very difficult to hide even in the seemingly anonymous online world.

Harvard Rescinds Admission To Students After Explicit Posts on Facebook

This generation going off to college next fall may be “digital natives,” but some of them certainly have a lot to learn yet about digital etiquette, safety, and privacy.  Harvard College canceled admission offers to at least ten prospective students of the Class of 2021 because of racist and sexually explicit memes they posted in a private Facebook chat, according to the a recent report. The individuals were informed in April that their admissions offers to the prestigious Ivy League institution were under review, then later rescinded, because they had posted memes mocking the Holocaust, sexual assault and child abuse, among other topics, in a private Facebook messaging group that was formed late last year, according to The Harvard Crimson. This incident certainly should be part of all parents’ discussion about how nothing you post is really private online and anything you post, no matter how exclusive the group, can come back to haunt you.

Watch Out for Spectacles

The company formerly known as Snapchat surprised the world recently by unveiling Spectacles, its first hardware product. The sunglasses, which record videos in 30-second increments, are expected to be available for sale sometime soon. Snap Inc., as the company is now called, says it will be producing the glasses in small quantities. Spectacles are wirelessly connected and record video snippets that get saved to a Snapchat Memories account. The camera, which looks like a circular logo on the front of the sunglass lens, has a 115-degree viewing radius meant to more accurately reflect how humans see. The glasses will cost $130, come in one size, and be available in three colors: black, teal, and coral. Images are transferred to a smartphone via WiFi. While the device is likely to intrigue children and other Snapchat users, it also brings some privacy concerns, as filming someone secretly– for good or bad – will just get that much easier.

Finstagrams Take a Bow

More than half of the 92 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 who go online daily use Instagram

Don’t Take Anything at Face Value - Misinformation

For a long time many watchers of the digital landscape have quietly been saying that the biggest cybersecurity risk is not identity theft, but misinformation.

Take Five: Posting on Social Media

Educators have stirred debate about the use of social media, both locally and elsewhere, sometimes garnering national attention for their online posts.

Helping Your Kids Build a Positive Identity Online

Every time any of us search, purchase or post something online it becomes a piece of data that forms our online identity.

Facebook Revamps Its Takedown Guidelines

Facebook has added sections to its Community Standards page designed to help people better understand what is acceptable to