NSW Department of Education

Leaving a digital footprint

For teachers
For parents
For students

Key message

Your digital footprint is the record of all your interactions online. Once something is posted or shared online, it can be there forever. Understanding your digital footprint helps you choose and control what you leave online for others to find.

Every time you are online you create a trail of any information you have viewed or created. This is known as your digital footprint. The internet makes accessing and sharing this information very easy, so it is important to understand and consider your digital footprint whenever you are sharing pictures and videos, making posts and comments and chatting online. Leaving a positive digital footprint can be very beneficial to your reputation and future opportunities. Guiding young people to leave a positive digital footprint is a good way to build their positive reputation.

Why is your digital footprint important?

Your digital footprint can have a lasting impact on your reputation, relationships and employment opportunities (both positive and negative). Understanding how this works is an important step toward making this impact a positive one. To learn about why your digital footprint is important, watch the following Internet Society video.

Creating a positive digital footprint

Right or wrong, your digital footprint can affect your reputation, both online and off line. Creating a positive digital footprint is an important part of protecting your reputation, both now and for the future. For some ideas on achieving this, watch Katelin McClure’s video on making a positive digital footprint.

Cleaning up your digital footprint

If you feel that your digital footprint does now reflect your best qualities, it is comforting to know that there are steps you can take to clean up your digital footprint (and improve your reputation). For practical advice on cleaning a digital footprint, read the ABC News article Protecting your children from their digital footprint.

To learn more about digital footprints, read the Scan journal article Expert insights into education for positive digital footprint development.

Top tips

Think before you click

Encourage children to think about content and the consequences of posting it. Are they aware that something that happens on the spur of the moment – a funny picture, an angry post – can still be online years later?

Keep it nice

Don’t make comments, post images or forward something that might upset someone else.

Protect personal information

Teach kids how to strengthen privacy settings, use strong passwords, change passwords regularly and not share them, as well as what is and isn’t appropriate to post or share.

Search yourself

Sit down with your child and type their name into a search engine looking for images as well as text. If you’re both not happy with anything you find, remove the content yourself if possible, or politely ask the person who posted it to delete it.

Make your online presence a positive one

Encourage kids to showcase the positive things they do through blogs, images, video and community participation.

Be a good role model

Demonstrate how you’re careful about what you do online and how you look after your own digital footprint.

Additional resources

Curriculum and syllabus links

References

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