Understanding how to manage your online reputation or “digital footprint” is tricky business, even for those of us who have been using the internet for a long time.
Almost everyone at one time or another has been guilty of sharing too much information or posting a photo that later makes us cringe. To complicate matters further, it’s not just our own online actions we need to worry about—what others say and post about us also contributes to our digital footprint.
In his new book, Net Smart: How to Thrive Online (2012), Howard Rheingold writes, “… whether or not we do anything about it, the webbed world is full of information about us that is provided by other people, including their opinions about us—the fact of life we know as reputation.”
While reputation management remains challenging for adults, imagine how difficult it is for a child to understand how the digital decisions they make today will stay with them, and the rest of cyberspace, forever.
Colleges and universities are increasingly relying on digital data when deciding who gets letters of acceptance, using sites like Zinch that lets students post profiles and links about themselves. Employers are increasingly conducting digital background checks on applicants before entrusting them with jobs. Today our digital footprint is our new first impression, and it starts taking shape the minute we go online.
-from Your Digital Footprint by Diana Graber