What goes on the internet stays on the internet.
The permeance of words and pictures on the internet is a concept students have difficulty comprehending.
Once, bad words, and bad photos are on the internet they stay there forever; unfortunately, the words and photos exist for cyber sleuths to find and future dreams will be smashed.
Students need to know the consequences of there actions.
Our society has changed since the internet and the introduction of social media. Social media has given us power and a voice which we’ve never had before, it can be used for good or evil. According to Jon Ronson in his TedTalk video “One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life” “The great thing about social media is how it gave a voice to the voiceless people”, but it also has the power to “dehumanize and destroy people without feeling guilty about it”. One misconstrued comment on the internet can have a backlash of astronomical proportions. Peoples lives can be devastated mentally and spiritually. Without dignity, who are we? Without compassion who are we?
Compassion wasn’t shown to Monica Lewinsky when her relationship with the then President, Bill Clinton, became public. She lived through pain, loss of reputation and loss of dignity; she knows first hand about humiliation. In her TedTalk “The Price of Shame” Lewinsky says “humiliation is a more intense emotion than happiness and anger”. With social media at everyone’s fingertips, negative words have the power to hurt deeply. Lewinsky says “millions of people can stab you with their words. That’s a lot of pain”. Lewinsky does have a positive message and she emphasizes we need to give compassion and have empathy as, “we have an empathy crisis”. Here is her empowering video.
Most teens think they are invincible, they aren’t concerned with the dangers of the internet. They willingly share personal information and post messages without thought or consideration of potential ramifications. In the article “10 Things Your Students Should Know About Their Digital Footprints” it explains students mistakes are now easily Googleable. Students are held accountable for what they put on the internet and fall prey to shaming and guilt. The digital footprint we leave on the internet will always remain. As Lauren Sauser says in her article “Developing Positive Digital Identities Through Education” “The internet NEVER forgets”. Infinity is a concept that’s difficult for adults to grasp let alone teenagers. Once information is on the internet it’s in the public domain, and traceable.
The article “10 Things Your Students Should Know About Their Digital Footprints”, emphasizes employers make decisions on what they find on the internet, and past indiscretions have repercussions. There is nothing completely private on the internet, even if you’ve got the strictest security; hackers love a challenge, and mistakes are made. Instagram still maintains and keeps records of all posts, they don’t disappear into thin air, contrary to popular belief.
We as teachers need to step in, guide, model, and explain the full dangers of the internet. We need to help students take charge of their digital identities, and ensure they have a positive digital footprint. Each student is responsible for their own digital reputation and as the article states, “build [their] own positive image and brand [themselves] in a great way”.
The article “How to teach students to build a positive online identity” by Tammi Sisk and Richard Stegman, explains the importance of students building their own digital portfolios. The portfolios showcase students learning, and “highlights strengths and personality”. Taking control of your digital footprint is essential. With every post whether it be in a blog or on Instagram, students should consider the following points from this article: “What information am I sharing? How secure is it? Who am I sharing it with? What am I leaving behind? What are my rights?” Students shouldn’t be afraid to express themselves on the internet just “represent themselves authentically, but also …. safely”. We as teachers need to guide our students on the digital pathway, and ensure positive impressions are left behind.
If a transgression is made, the best way to off set the negative feedback is to post a vast amount of positive material. We can try to bury it under a mountain of good articles, tweets, blogs, and posts. We also need to teach our students compassion, empathy, and caring. Therefore, if a negative post is made public, students have the strength of character to stand up for their friends show compassion and empathy, reducing the pain and shame of the mistake. As Monica Lewinsky says “shame cannot survive empathy”.