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5 top tips to protect your pupils’ digital footprints

The need for teachers to be digitally aware is becoming increasingly important. So, how can you help protect your pupils’ digital footprints?

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The internet is a powerful tool used by billions of people all over the world. We can now communicate with people in completely different countries at the click of a button.

In the theme of Anti-Bullying Week — All Different, All Equal — we know that access to information, forums, chat rooms, gaming groups, social networks, shopping, and emails is now incredibly easy. At the same time, the need for teachers to be digitally aware is becoming increasingly important. So, how can you help protect your pupils’ digital footprints?

When the internet is being used, a digital footprint trail is left. Every click, every post, every submit leaves a trace, which most children are unaware of. As soon as they post something online it is available for other users to do with it what they want. Even with the best privacy settings, your pupils are no longer in control of the information once they have posted it. Other users can save it, share it, comment on it or use it in a negative way against them which is a scary thought. Once it is on the World Wide Web it is potentially there forever. Even if they delete a post, remove a picture or a comment they will still be present on a server somewhere.

Your pupils are responsible for the information they put online, just like every other person in the world. Even if they have used false profiles to try and hide their identity, the user profile can be linked back to them if required. So, if the profile is used to do harm like cyberbullying and it is reported to the Police, they have the means to trace that profile back to its creator. Even if users attempt to hide their presence on the internet they are never truly hidden. Also, your students are responsible for the information they have stored on their computers, laptops, mobiles, tablets or any device that connects to the internet that they can save things to. Students need to be very careful that the information they store or share is legal and not abusive in anyway.

Make sure your students keep personal details safe, this is very important. They would not choose to share that information to a stranger in the street so why would they do it online? Keep your pupils safe online by making sure they keep up to date with their privacy settings. Sites do have a habit of changing their privacy settings without telling anyone so make sure your pupils keep an eye on them every so often. Tell them to stay in control of who can see their posts and who they are making friends with. If it is someone your pupil doesn’t know, tell them to be careful because it could be a false account where the user has lied about their age or gender to get to know them.

5 Top Tips by Bullies Out to help pupils keep track of their online presence:

  1. Search themselves online – Tell your pupils to simply web search their name and see what they can find. If they find something they don’t like, they should try and remove it.
  2. Check their privacy settings – Make sure they know what information they are sharing on the websites they use, particularly on social networking sites.
  3. Tell them to think before they post – Before they post that funny picture of their friend, or make that joke about someone on Twitter, tell them to ask themselves “Do you want everyone to see it; friends, family, grandparents, future employers?” “Would you be happy for others to post that type of content about you?” If the answer is no, don’t do it!
  4. Deactivate and delete – When they stop using a social networking profile or website, it’s a good idea to deactivate or delete their account. This will mean the content is no longer live and should not be searchable online; it will also remove the risk of these accounts being hacked without your student knowing.
  5. Make a positive footprint – We hear a lot about the negative footprints left behind online. The best way for your pupils to keep online a good reputation in check is to use time online to get creative and create a positive footprint.