Those who choose to engage in online activity are creating a digital identity in the process. The information builds from digital inputs and outputs across various areas of our lives. Howell, J. (2014) describes these exchanges of information as messages which we push out online (outputs) such as an email sent or a post online, and inputs coming from individuals leaving a comment on our blog or twitter feed, or posting a picture of us on Facebook.
These simple daily activities that we may otherwise mindlessly participate in, build our digital identity, creating a place for others to resource a perception of our character, lifestyle and achievements. This can create a false perception of who we really are, but even more critically has the ability to expose us to many security risks from the outside world.
An insight into areas of digital security is explained in the clip below from Phd students at Kings College London (Algorithm Design Group – Information Security).
This highlights the importance of harnessing and educating both ourselves and our 21st century learners, on the importance of digital fluency, becoming familiar with different technologies and how we can be safer when using it, as well as increasing our digital literacy by being mindful of the products that we are using, and how they impact our identity and security. (Howell, J. 2014).
Unlike previous generations, children today are more connected to the online world than ever before, exchanging information on many platforms such as web browsing, gaming sites and social media 24 hours a day (Trendmicro.com.au, 2014). These activities raise the risk of exposure to inappropriate and malicious content, cyberbullying, harmful people, and identity theft as highlighted in the following infographic, created by University of Texas, Centre for Identity (2014).
By teaching children to value privacy and how to protect specific information such as photos, addresses and phone numbers, and explaining the dangers and impacts of their actions, we can work towards a digital world where children can confidently protect their digital identities for the rest of their lives.
The video below by Common sense media (2010) is narrated by children, offering tips to other children on how to be smart online, protecting privacy and respecting others.
Other helpful resources