How To Manage Your Digital Footprint: Tips For Students

How To Manage Your Digital Footprint: Tips For Students

Hey you! Our topic for today is digital footprint. So I’m not gonna waste your time. Let’s dig in straight away.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that one action online can impact you for a long time. We all know good examples of it. Let’s see what would be the last one we all heard of. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Doja Cat and her beef with the kid from Stranger Things, right? We all know how that ended. The thing is, one comment on social media (good or bad) can go viral and become impossible to stop. 

In today’s world, your digital footprint matters. At some stage, someone will search for you online. It could be your future boss, teacher, lecturer, or parent. It may be a person you met in a bar and you really clicked with. You might not be thinking of it now but what you search for and post on the internet can either hurt you or help you. 

And that is why, you have a responsibility to protect your reputation on the internet, especially as a student. Luckily, I have some tips you can use to protect your digital footprint. 

How To Manage Your Digital Footprint Tip #1: Use Privacy Settings

How To Manage Your Digital Footprint Tip #1: Use Privacy Settings

Now, in case you didn’t know, a digital footprint is classified into two categories, which are active digital footprints and passive digital footprints

An active digital footprint is where the user has deliberately shared information about themselves. For example, through posting or participating on social networking sites or online forums. 

A passive digital footprint is created when information is collected about the user without them being aware that this is happening. For example, this occurs when websites collect information about how many times users visit, where they come from, and their IP address.

We’re gonna focus on the active one. 

If you’re not a social media influencer, there will be parts of your social media activity that you want to keep from prying eyes. Even if you don’t post any sensitive or private information on social networks (which you should never do), hiding parts of or all social media activity is a good first step. The easiest way to do that is to keep your accounts private. 

Lock down privacy settings. 

Many social media sites allow you to choose how secure you want your account to be. For example, on Facebook, you can choose not to be searchable and to only have your friends able to view your full profile.

Manage your list of friends or followers. 

Consider reviewing who you are connected with online and do this on a regular basis so that you can feel more confident that the people you share content with are supportive.

Keep professional accounts public. 

If you think disappearing from the web or going super-private on all your profiles is a good idea, think twice. Having no online presence isn’t a good sign for hiring managers, as it could be seen as somewhat suspicious. What you should do instead is separate professional accounts like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (depending on your niche) and keep them public so they are easily searchable. Keep your content focused on what you can offer in your field and what accomplishments you want to highlight. Share news about your industry, upcoming conferences or work events you’re attending, and other business updates.

How To Manage Your Digital Footprint Tip #2: Don’t Overshare (Think Before You Post)

How To Manage Your Digital Footprint Tip #2: Don’t Overshare (Think Before You Post)

Self-regulation is knowing when something you want to post online is or isn’t appropriate.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether you would want your parents or colleagues seeing the content. If people you look up to wouldn’t approve, you can consider that an employer or your colleagues may not either. And, it doesn’t matter if you’re not friends with them on Facebook. You might be sometime in the future. 

Avoid inappropriate pictures. 

Don’t post anything that could embarrass you later. Something may be funny now, but if found by the wrong person, could damage your reputation. This is especially important for teenagers and students who may be participating in risky behavior that would cause a potential employer or college to think twice about them.

By adopting these tips, you’ll be on the path to building a positive digital footprint that is an asset to your career.

How To Manage Your Digital Footprint Tip #3: Create a Positive Online Presence

Tip #3: Create a Positive Online Presence

Depending on the platform, you can use words, photos, videos, or a mix of these to tell stories about your interests, skills, achievements, and experiences. Some examples of ways to showcase yourself positively online include:

  • Write a blog post about a book you read.
  • Create an online sponsorship page for a specific fundraising activity that you’re involved in.
  • Write an article for your school about your experience on a camp, excursion, or student exchange program.
  • Upload digital artworks to your portfolio.

How To Manage Your Digital Footprint Tip #4: From time to time, Google yourself

 Tip #4: From time to time, Google yourself

Becoming aware of what information is being shared on behalf of your name is as important as anything else. If you’ve been the person who hasn’t been paying attention to what you say or post on social media, your digital reputation might come as a surprise to you. It’s time to clean the mess up.

You can find your digital footprint just by doing a search of yourself, using Google or another internet search engine. This is the information that other people will see if they do the same, for example, a future employer, colleague, or teacher.

Here’s a little tip: Use a private window or incognito mode option so that results are not customized because of your location or search habits.

Once you have done that, there is a range of tools available to help you keep track of your online reputation, including Google Alerts which will notify you of any new online activity related to your personal information, such as your name.

Remove unwanted content. 

If you discover sensitive personal information online that you can’t remove yourself, you can ask Google to remove this. You can check what Google is willing to remove. If a nude image has been shared without your consent, you can report this to Report Remove.

How To Manage Your Digital Footprint Tip #5: Consider Creating A Professional Website/An Online Portfolio

How To Manage Your Digital Footprint Tip #5: Consider Creating A Professional Website/An Online Portfolio

Finally, creating a personal website can help you highlight your achievements, experience, and career goals. In other words, by creating your website or a portfolio you create your online home. 

This way you can be somewhat in control of what people will find when they search for you. And more importantly, you get to show all parts of yourself, or at least the ones you really want to.

It is an opportunity to highlight all the vital information, and give a little intro to who you are and what you are capable of. 

Read More: How to Show off Skills in a Creative Way With a Personal Website

In Conclusion

In Conclusion

Today, reputation is a form of currency, and since the internet never forgets, our reputation is more permanent than it used to be in the pre-digital era. With search results, people can easily find out what you posted three years ago simply by entering the right search query.
People don’t always consider that what they say and do online can leave behind a digital footprint. But here’s the deal. This digital footprint can shape your identity and impact your online AND offline reputation. That’s why it’s so important to start young and to learn about the responsibilities you have as digital citizens. The sooner you start to think about your actions online and the digital footprints that you leave behind, the better.

Author:

Biljana Martinić

Captain of Red Hair Pirates. Song Sommelier. Dragonologist. Talks to animals and they often talk back. Shyness that is criminally vulgar. Bounty hunter. And a nostalgia consultant.

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