Note From Keri Lyn ~ I just wanted to mention how thrilled I am to have Eileen guest posting this series on the blog! Eileen has been a dear friend for several years. She is an amazing mom and honestly THE very funnest person to visit Disneyland with. I love her passion for protecting our kids and families in social media and I am SO thrilled to have her sharing her expertise here weekly with all of us!
This post is the fourth in this series. Make sure to read Eileen’s other posts: How to Talk to Your Kids About Social Media and Questions to Help Start Social Media Conversations with Your Kids.
With that, I introduce to you my friend Eileen:
Hi there! My name is Eileen Calandro and I’m thrilled to create content for She Saved readers once a week. (Thank you, Keri Lyn!) I’ve been teaching classes about parenting kids on social media for years and also enjoy doing assemblies about being good digital citizens for elementary school kids. I used to teach first grade before I had my three sons (it’s not just a television show from the 60’s) and recently worked in social media as a community manager for six years. Now I’ve combined my love of teaching and social media into creating my classes and assemblies.
I write like I talk -and I talk a lot! (I listen, too. Life’s all about balance, right?) I hope this weekly conversation offers you helpful information about parenting your digital citizen and ways to connect with your kids about social media.
Help Your Kids Leave a Positive Digital Footprint
When we talk and interact on social media we walk through the online world. Everywhere we “walk” creates our digital footprint. Every step we take creates an opportunity for us to proclaim things about ourselves and who we are online. One challenge for teens (and even adults) to understand: this digital footprint never goes away.
Never goes away? What?!? YIKES!
I’m getting ahead of myself. Are you wondering what a digital footprint is? Even worse, did you start to fall asleep in the first paragraph of this post? Shame on me! Assuming you know certain terminology can halt a conversation before it starts. And starting off a conversation in a stiff way makes you click somewhere else.
That’s exactly what I’m talking about: the clicking we do online. That’s part of your digital footprint. It’s everywhere you “walk” online.
Every click, every like, every comment, every photo, text, email, and interaction on a social media platform like instagram or snapchat leaves a digital footprint. This footprint represents you and everything you do online. It can say a lot about you.
When I talk about this subject in my parenting classes or assemblies, I tell my students a digital footprint is like a footprint on the moon: there’s nothing in the atmosphere to erase it. Unlike footprints on a beach where the tide comes in to wash the steps away, the footprints that were left by astronauts still exist on the moon’s surface. Unless the lunar rover tread covered a footprint, it’s still there.
A digital footprint still exists online as well.
Students ask me, “What if I delete a text or an email or a post or a comment?” Or I hear the frequent declaration, “Snaps disappear after ten seconds!”
If you delete a comment, an email, or a text it disappears from your device, but there’s no proof it doesn’t exist somewhere else, on a server or on someone else’s phone because they took a screenshot of it. And snaps don’t “disappear.” They get hidden, but don’t go away. They just don’t. Our kids want to think they don’t need to worry about what’s said in a snap because it won’t exist anywhere, but they do need to think about that content. They need to be responsible for it.
We give our kids devices that have permanent consequences at exactly the time when their brains aren’t wired to understand long-term anything! Do you see the irony in this? I sure do and spend a lot of time talking with parents and kids about what to do about online reputations.
Here’s my advice (if you’ve already read my other content on this site, you may already know some of the things I’m about to say here -and if you’ve read my other content -thanks!):
- Talk with your kids about their digital footprints.
- Ask them if they know what one is (they probably do) and then ask why it’s important to think about it. Debate with them (your family might have a discussion instead of a debate -lucky you!) about whether a digital footprint goes away. (This always is fun in my house because I’m a parent so I don’t know anything. Yes, I teach classes on this subject and research it and read articles to back up what I say and my kids still say I’m wrong! Like I said, it’s fun!)
- Talk about scenarios where a positive digital footprint can make a difference (employers look at them) and discuss when it can be a problem (college scholarships get taken away because of them).
- Model what it looks like to have a positive digital footprint.
- Talk about what a digital footprint looks like and if it truly represents you or your child. Think of it like a word cloud. Oh no -do you know what a word cloud is? Nope? Shame on me, again. A word cloud is a cluster of words created in a circle or oval or any shape. Some words in a word cloud appear larger than others and some are smaller. Some word clouds get created by looking at a collection of words and picking out the words used most frequently. For example, a document, or facebook feed, or website can have a word cloud created from its content.
- Think about that word cloud and what it would say about who you are online. What words would be bigger than the others? What words would be smaller or wouldn’t even exist in your word cloud? Help your kids think about the words they use online and the reputations they create when they occupy this space.
- Look at your kids’ interactions online. What words do you seen them using? When you look at their phones (yep -you should be doing that) what emojis exist in the first five slots reserved for the most-used ones? This will tell you how they communicate with their friends and the content of their digital footprints.
- Take a walk together online with your kids. Look at where they tread and also look at what they’re saying about themselves. Look at where you tread as well and talk about both of your digital footprints. You know you’re not the only one taking a look. And as you do, help them with what they say and how they say it. If a digital footprint never goes away, it’s worth taking the time to see what footprints are being walked online.
Keep being amazing connected parents! Have a question or topic you’d like me to write about? Let me know and I’ll do my best to get an answer or write a post.
Thank you, Keri Lyn!
Connect with Eileen
If you are looking to learn more about and to stay up to date on the latest social media happenings and trends, especially where kids are concerned, then I highly encourage you to follow Eileen in social media!