Past Digital Identity
I am in the fortunate position to be one of the younger people who was still old enough to not have Facebook in my teens. As a result, my past digital identity is fairly mild. By the time I got a Facebook account, I was already into my second year of a Bachelor of Social Work Degree. I think this very much impacted my past identity. I was passionate about social justice and already cautious and aware of how my online presence could affect career opportunities which were a very really idea only a few years away. Today’s teens aren’t so lucky. They see what their friends are posting and often post comments and meme’s to get the most “likes”. Often these are not even a representation of their views, just something they see as pop culture and they just hit the share button. I think the debate of “should young people have an opportunity to edit their digital identities once they reach a certain age” will become increasingly relevant.
Present Digital Identity
I feel that my present digital identity has been very influenced by the past decade I’ve spent taking university classes. The constant fear of online postings somehow coming back to haunt you as a teach is something I’ve had drilled into me countless times. As a result, my present digital identity feels like a ghost of myself. I have thinks out there but it is such a small piece of who I truly am that I put forth online. I remember attending quite a few bachelorette parties as a young teacher and being super adamant that all the pictures people were taking couldn’t even end up online. (Which is a decision I don’t regret).
Presently, when I google myself, I see someone who is involved in a variety of professional platforms and someone who is in karate and soccer. This is an identity I don’t mind sharing with the world and one that I feel presents quite well as a professional.
Future Digital Identity and Children’s Digital Identity
What does my future digital identity hold? Reflecting on my digital identities I’ve come to appreciate that for better or for worse, my digital identity was influenced by my decisions and my decisions alone. In the future, I think I need to be most present in how what I’m posting as part of my digital identity will affect the young people around me. Friends of mine have made various decisions in regards to their children’s’ digital identities; some well informed and others seemingly less so. I’ve witnessed the full range (as I’m sure others have too) from the compulsive over-sharer to the friends who you would be unaware they even have children if you didn’t know them in real life. I hope going forward to be somewhere in the middle. Being a new auntie is a super important part of my identity and something that I want to share with the digital world. When I have my own children I’m sure I’ll feel the same way. It opened up a whole range of questions around where your identity starts and ends and where the younger generations begins.
I think unconsciously with very young children we post about them as if they were extensions of ourselves as they are unable to give consent. I think there has to be a conscious thought of “would they like their 13 year old classmates to be able to google them and find those pictures?” I know that I plan to be very selective when posting pictures of the younger generation of my family but I would still like to post and include pictures with them being involved.
In the future, I would like to be more involved in my student’s digital identities. Until this class, I have seen my student’s and my digital identities and two entirely separate entities. I do my thing online and they do their things. As long as it doesn’t’ affect school I haven’t looked into it that much. Now I’m seeing that as a gap in my practice and so many missed conversations with students. Even though participating in this final project and opening up conversations with students about Snapchat and Instagram I have been brought into a world I knew very little about. I still would like to have separate professional and personal digital identities online as it’s nice to have some boundaries between work and home, but I feel I can do more to interact with my students online and help influence them in creating more positive digital identities moving forward.