My journey to answer this simple question was not an easy one it was provoked from a twitter discussion with @oweniken82 about whether we should have a traceable online digital footprint. I have tried to take this on from all different sides of the argument. It is a complex issue, whether it is about safety for an individual or accountability against bullying there are many facets to this argument.
I personally am against having personal information available out in the wild’s of the internet where anyone can find out anything about me. Not that i’m trying to hide anything, I have nothing to hide and am open and honest to anyone I meet. However I’ve personally been bitten by having someone gain access to my personal information or my views before and I have lost a job over it.They accessed the information illegally and there were personal consequences because of that.
As a teacher who will be letting students roam around the wilds of the internet. If they are going to access it anyways be it at home and their parents don’t supervise their time on the internet responsibily or they get access another way why not just educate them for the reasons of responsible digital citizenship. It’s like saying well we shouldn’t let the student choose their own food yet as they don’t have enough information about healthy eating habits.
Everytime you put something on the internet be it, an email, post on facebook or twitter, post a photo online you are giving out personal details and that you are publishing this information for all to see. You alone are accountable for what you post, and many times deleting something you have published and getting it completely removed from the internet is not easy.
Looking at the advice given by most of the government agencies on this matter and from my own personal experience the best advice is this.
- You should only use your real name online when you know it is a safe secure environment
- If it asks for a username or gives you an option for a username do so. Your username should not reveal any personal information about you as this is normally publicily displayable on a website.
- You are old enough to be responsible for everything that you post
- When you are shopping, banking online usually they need a proper name to address it to. This is usually a safe secure venue to do so. You do need to make sure the site is secure (look for the lock in the address bar)
- Some competitions also ask for a real name, although you do have to excercise caution.