by Karen Nichols
Campus has been quite lonely without the students, but they'll be back next Monday. You'll see many of them plugged in, texting, posting on SnapChat and participating in various social media. But do you talk to your students about their digital footprints?
Dawn McGuckin wrote an article for the December 5, 2016 issue of Faculty Focus--"Teaching Students about Their Digital Footprints." She gives presentations around the country to educators so that they can in turn help their students realize the lasting effects of their social media posts and how their actions can impact their future, especially when they enter the job market or are applying to graduate school.
She gives several suggestions for having this conversation such as showing students examples of people who have been fired for what they posted on such sites as Facebook. Of course, employers are suspicious of people who have no internet presence, so just staying away from social media may also be detrimental.
Having students Google themselves is another way for them to see that anyone can easily obtain information about them. Once they see what can be found, they may be more open to your suggestions of setting strict privacy limits, or in some cases, completely deleting certain accounts with questionable photos or tweets.
In addition to talking to your students about the negative impact of their digital footprints, also offer them some positive ways that would make them attractive to future employers or graduate school programs. For example, have your students set up a LinkedIn account in order to start making good connections now. Dawn even has her students link to her so that she can be one of their first professional contacts.
Please share with us the results if you do have this conversation with your students. And, have you Googled yourself lately? You may just want to make sure nothing negative about you is out there for your students or others to see!