Digital Boundaries

Having spent years teaching kids about internet safety coupled with being a relatively cautious personality type, understanding digital boundaries is rather ingrained into my internetical habits.

You are welcome for that new word, by the way. Feel free to use it in all your conversations today.



One of the most significant lessons I teach my teenagers is to respect their digital footprint. That means bringing up the fact that everything they post, comment on, "like," retweet, text, email, or reblog will make up their digital reputation. Additionally, everything other people post or comment to/about them is also included in their digital footprint.  

The thing is, I've noticed that my sweet precious angel babies don't give a rip about their digital footprint...until the moment I call their attention to the fact that in just a few years they will be applying for jobs, entrance to the college or university of their dreams, scholarships, or trying to play for a certain team. The folks who will get to make those very important decisions about these kids' lives? They shall be googling like crazycakes...or have minions to do it for them. 

And just what, then, will they find? That ridiculous and offensive page they liked on Facebook? Their flaming a "friend" by calling them homosexual or racial slurs? The offensive meme they posted on Instagram? The unflattering video of a classmate they posted on Vine?

It's hard work, growing up online. I'm so glad Facebook wasn't around when I was 14. Lawdyhammercy.  

There aren't very many concepts that visibly sinks in to a group of teenagers like this. Especially when I have taken every opportunity to tell these kids that, regardless of what they think about themselves, they can and will and should make something of their lives

It's slow going, but some of these kids, they're starting to get stop the onslaught of oversharing. I believe that with increasingly open, sound, and effective discussions, this is a trend we will see spike in the coming years. 

One aspect of digital boundaries and the digital footprint of the individual that is vastly ignored is that of parents (okay, mostly moms...myself included) who are blogging openly about our children. To reveal or not to reveal the identities of your little subjects is a highly personal decision, but cannot be taken lightly. Far too many of us who write about this endless supply of material gushing from daily life with our hilarious kids forget that what we write about these little people also becomes a part of their digital footprint. 

We have to start considering, will they be okay with this?  

Or will my kid hate me in 10 years for sharing this picture/story/detail...even if it is positively hilarious/sweet/cute?

This video is one of the first I've seen that even touches on the risk that we take as writers of our children, and even so only briefly. It's a concept that I predict will take off soon as the first generations of kids-of-mommy-bloggers begin to grow old enough to have an opinion about the content that is being published about them. Technically, there could even be legal action in some instances, depending on the carayzayness of the individuals and posts. 

Not likely, of course, but always a possibility when real life people are the stars in your show.  

Respecting these digital boundaries for ourselves and for others whose digital footprints we can affect can be among the greatest gift we give to our future identities.  

*Netsmartz is a great resource for talking with your kids about their digital footprint, as are some items from Common Sense Media