The company is facing profound technical, social, and political challenges in moderating its own system. On grounds of freedom of expression and ideological neutrality, the platform has long allowed users to upload videos endorsing noxious ideas, from conspiracy theories to neo-Nazism. Now it wanted to reverse course. YouTube planned to roll out its new policy as early as June.
The children knew what digital footprints were: what you put online stays online people could find you if you left identifying information, such as your address or full name employers would check your social media. They talked about password security, not putting personal details online such as their name, address and date of birth , blocking people who harassed them, getting advice from parents, not clicking on anything silly, not posting pictures of their faces.
They showed awareness of the potential consequences of their actions.
The implications of their digital footprint awareness led them to try to minimise theirs, to try to be invisible online. They mainly communicated with one another via Instagram, using it as a messaging service. All but one child had their account set to private, and very few posted photos.
They used it just to talk. While the children in the study had a high level of digital footprint awareness, they are only aware of this as a liability. Their responses did not include any discussion of the benefits offered by digital footprints.
Educative interventions should be designed to empower and protect children, to supplement their existing digital footprint management strategies.
Image: DQ Institute How to teach for positive digital footprints Children could be taught how to curate their online presence. That is, they could be explicitly taught not all they do online needs to be hidden.
Curation is about knowing what to display publicly and what should remain private. School projects, awards, pieces of writing, and digital artworks are examples of suitable things to be attributed to them.
Teaching children to curate their achievements, skills and some aspects of their digital identity would help prepare them for the greater online freedom that will come with high school. When should positive digital footprint education begin?
There are four reasons the two final years of primary school would be an ideal time to begin to teach children about positive digital footprints: 1. When asked what would you like to know about the internet, one girl in the study asked: How can it change your future?
Digital footprints can be an asset or a liability for children. Building on their knowledge by giving them guidance in curating a positive online presence could go a long way to help children shape their own future.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum. Global Competitiveness Report