1. Google Yourself
The first step to creating a positive digital footprint is to figure out what your current footprint is. I found this to be a common starting point in many of the resources I read. Everything that you post is connected to your digital reputation (Nielsen, 2013). By Googling yourself, it keeps you up to date on what other people can see about you which helps you to put your best online self forward (Boyle, 2014).
2. Protect Login Information
When creating a safe digital footprint, protecting your login information is crucial to maintaining your online presence (Pfeffer, 2014). In order to stay yourself online, keeping your usernames and passwords locked up will make it far more difficult for someone to hijack your digital personality.
3. Use Privacy Settings
The use of the privacy settings offered by online accounts are important for everyone, but especially for teachers. There are some things that you post online that your students don’t need to see like political opinions or pictures with your significant other (Boyle, 2014). By using the privacy settings, it allows you to stay yourself online, but it gives you a small layer of protection from student’s eyes.
4. Review Existing Content
Once you begin analyzing your digital footprint, it is important to adjust your current content on your pages. You can go back and delete old photos or posts that don’t represent you anymore (Bentley, 2017). It is true that nothing on the internet ever truly goes away, but you can distance yourself as much as you can by trimming down the unnecessary content.
5. Brand Yourself
Your digital footprint should represent who you are as a person. When someone looks at your online personality, it should mirror who you are in real life (Goble). This comes from finding who you are and the direction you want to go in life. Your digital self is no different.
6. Join Inspirational Groups
Joining a CoP online is a great way to continue to build a positive digital footprint (Bentley, 2017). By showcasing your interests and how they inspire you to learn and grow as a person will give your online persona depth and truth into who you really are.
7. Practice Self Control
Not everything that pops into your head needs to be displayed on the internet for everyone to see (Bentley, 2017). Also, posting too often can have a negative effect towards your digital footprint. When posting things online, a good rule of thumb to consider is if you would want your boss or mother to read what you send out.
8. Publishing is FOREVER
Once something is placed online, it is very difficult if not impossible to get rid of it. Just because it isn’t posted on your page anymore, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist (Boyle, 2014). This can have the potential to be dangerous to ruining your positive digital footprint. Be aware of what you are posting and make sure that you would be okay with it being there forever before you hit publish.
9. Searches are Social
The internet has a brain, and it tracks everything you are doing and searching. This is why ads relate to recent searches you have done on Google, Bing, or other search engines and websites (Boyle, 2014). In order to avoid this slight intrusion on your life, there are a few, more private, search engines that you can try. You can also just be aware of what it is that you are searching and make it as close to your digital footprint brand as possible.
10. Make Good Choices
This is a good strategy for more than just maintaining a positive digital footprint. When creating your online persona, you need to take into account that just because you are sitting behind a screen and not discussing things face to face, your digital footprint still represents you as a person (Bentley, 2017). Kindness goes a long way and choosing your friends and groups wisely can help a lot.
Bentley, Penny. (May 26, 2017). How do I: Develop my digital footprint. Retrieved from http://vlc.ucdsb.ca/howdoi9-12/digitalfootprint.
Boyle, Justin. (March 8, 2014). 11 tips for students to manage their digital footprints. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/digital-citizenship-the-future-of-learning/11-tips-for-students-tomanage-their-digital-footprints/.
Goble, Don. (No Date). 10 things your students should know about their digital footprints. Retrieved from http://www.teachhub.com/10-things-your-students-should-know-about-their-digital-footprints.
Nielsen, Lisa. (2013). What’s you digital footprint? Discover your online identity. Retrieved from https://www.smore.com/6pbw-what-s-your-digital-footprint.
Pfeffer, Jennifer. (August 21, 2014). Your digital footprint: What is it & how can you manage it?. Retrieved from http://www.rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/main/your-digital-footprint/.