First things first, what is digital identity? As per Wikipedia, it is, information on an entity used by computer systems to represent an external agent. This “external agent” could be a person, organization, or even a device! What struck me with this definition was “information used by computer systems to represent”. Our digital identity is a representation of ourselves – it is information about ourselves and our belief’s, shared online. As brought up in our class this week, we need to be cautious of how much we separate our online identity from our identity in the rest of our lives as really, they should be one in the same – if you aren’t willing to say it in person, why put it online? I work directly with the Red Cross of Canada in teaching their “Beyond the Hurt” and “Healthy Youth Relationship” programming and we show this video to kids to remind them of this…short and too the point. Think BEFORE you type is a message that should be heard by the young and the young at heart.
When I think about my past digital identity I consider myself VERY lucky because I grew up in a time that, as Alec spoke about in class, my childhood could be forgotten and forgiven because I didn’t have the opportunity to have a digital identity. My mistakes were fleeting and not documented and stored in a way that is around forever. As the technologies began to advance I was at an age where I was able to make more responsible choices and was smarter with how I used the technologies. As well as I was still on the outside edge of the technologies being used for “bad”. While I was searching around trying my hardest to remember what my life was like before my devices, I came across the article, “20 Things We Don’t Do Anymore Thanks to Technology” and it summed up the things that made up my past identity!
1. Memorize and phone number. 11. Record your fave shows on tape.
2. Use a phone book. 12. Watch shows live.
3. Used car on the side of the road with a “For Sale” sign. 13. Cut out of the newspaper.
4. Do math in your head. 14. Run to the store for a last minute gift…thanks amazon prime!
5. Call someone to ask where they are. 15. Send a handwritten letter.
6. Make photo albums. 16. Look up spelling words in the dictionary.
7. Have a CD collection. 17. Use a phone booth.
8. Make mix tapes. 18. Carry enough change for the phone booth.
9. Call the theatre for movie times. 19. Use travel agents.
10. Tell time on a clock with hands. 20. Get old cheques back from the bank monthly.
Now we can’t be dwelling on the past…so let’s chat about my present digital identity. I just took a session at my Teacher’s Convention that focused on “Looking Before you Leap” into social media and the consequences it can have outside the online world. Again, it comes down to not separating our online self from our “offline” self too much because there are mutual consequences that can occur based on how we behave in both arenas. The presenters fully admitted they did not use social media and didn’t really know anything about it, but they made some good points because of their positions on the STF protecting and supporting teachers who have either made questionable choices online, or whom have had something misconstrued online. I feel as though my online choices and digital identity in my life now are based a lot on the profession I have chosen. Most of the time I spend online is school related and when it’s not, I am very cautious of what I post so there is no chance for misinterpretation or misrepresentation. Especially since taking these digital literacies classes I have been much more conscious of how am I portrayed online and therefore I will be perceived online. I loved the activity Alec had you all participate in during class where you researched the names of random people online – although I wasn’t able to take part, it got me thinking of the way I may come across online and the importance of being careful, responsible and authentic online.
Looking towards the future for the kids I teach…I’m nervous but cautiously optimistic. I can see the UNBELIEVABLE amount of opportunities if we teach kids to be safe and responsible online. If we can teach them that they need to be authentic but wary and if we can teach them to understand that they are themselves online and IRL. Not to mention to teaching kiddos how to wade through the online world to find truth and authenticity from others. I really love this continuum that my classmate Danielle created to show the technologies and when we should be introducing them to our youth – as I mentioned in a comment to her, I love that this is not a fixed schedule, it’s a working document that is fluid. The access both teachers and youth have to technology could easily dictate when and where on this continuum they start and end up.
In Anne and Amy’svideo I found it really interesting that when Anne surveyed her students, they said that their parents were good online and that they rarely asked for support aside from identifying fake news and spam. I also found it interesting that Anne suspected only about 1/20 kids were comfortable fully navigating a computer when she got them for graphic design. I think in order for children to have safe, true, meaningful digital identities, it comes down to making sure they are educated! Their parents feel fairly good on social media now because there is a tonne of information on it but less comfortable with identifying fake news and spam because it is only now that there are people or organizations offering tools to sort through the online world in this way. Lots to consider but all I know with 100% certainty is that education is key to ensure our digital identities are authentic and SAFE!