This paper is an analysis of ONE issue (my choice is highlighted) that involves technology. The ‘demographic’ will be children – elementary through High School. Assignment instructions and rubric (also detailing what needs to be in paper) are attached.
Digital Footprint and Identity
An in-depth analysis of digital footprint is necessary for Educational Technology as it contributes greatly to the emotional, academic, and overall well-being of students. In this case, we consider students of elementary school and high-school going age. Their exposure to the internet is inevitable as it has become one of the major needs of young people in the current generation. It helps a great deal to analyze the issues associated with digital footprints and identity, as well as come up with suggestions and recommendations that will aid in addressing these issues for the benefit of these children.
Component 1: Digital footprint and its prevalence in the student population
Digital media is one of the most common ways that young people spend their free time in this generation. Young kids use it through games and apps and older kids through posting photos and other posts. Teens often use it to express themselves, share their creativity, and develop close relationships with people. While it provides a good platform for students of elementary school through high school to gain positively, it also comes with its own setbacks. It sometimes leads to depression, jealousy and the feeling that one ought to live a certain kind of ideal lifestyle (James et al, 2019). This kind of pressure has led to teens using several accounts, some of which are known and others unknown to their parents. Since the Internet never forgets, many young people have experienced the loss of opportunities in their lives due to obscene things that they post or comment.
Worldwide, children mostly use the internet to do their schoolwork. Many also use it for watching videos, playing games, sending and receiving emails and social networking. In developed countries like those in Europe, the US and Australia, most children use the internet at least once a week, with many of them accessing it almost daily (Buchanan, 2017). They have it at close-range, with some of them having it at home and using it for at least an hour and a half daily. It is an advantage for such children since they are exposed to adults who can guide them on how to use the Internet and improve their digital footprint. Children in lower-income families are a bit disadvantaged in this case since they are likely to lack digital literacy skills, which are necessary for appropriate online presence. It is interesting to note that some children learn about technology from their parents while others teach their parents.
When a person goes online, they leave behind a trail of traceable activities and data, known as a digital footprint. In most cases, children are oblivious about this, thus need clear guidance on online presence. These footprints leave one exposed to both positive and negative consequences. In this generation, children are online from a young age as compared to older generations. Their lives are more exposed to the online world and they experience great diversity in their digital identity. As a result of this, there has been an increase in societal concern over the moral behavior of these children on the internet (Buchanan, 2017). Morals have been corrupted by the internet and acts such as cyberbullying, addiction to the internet, ‘sexting’ and pedophilia have been on the rise.
Parents, policymakers, industry leaders and educators have had to struggle with the question of how much time children should spend on the internet. In other words, “how much time is too much?” They desire that children spend moderate, not excessive, amounts of time on the internet (Keeley & Little, 2017). However, it is evident that there is no absolute answer to this question and they are left to make a decision based on the child’s age, life context and characteristics. It is always debatable. Children who have ease of access to internet such as home Wi-Fi find it difficult to regulate the time they spend on the internet.
Component 2: Solutions to address the issue and systems of support to promote digital citizenship
The digital space requires to be regulated and managed in a way that makes it better for children to address the prevailing challenges. One of the ways that this can be achieved is through the intervention of various bodies such as organizations and governments. International organizations for children, governments, civil societies, United Nations agencies, the private sector, the technical community, academia and children can collaborate and cooperate to make digital citizenship favorable for children and teens. These can come up with international regulations, national policies focused on children, coordinated responses and models of best practice (Keeley & Little, 2017). Governments and organizations can also do this by supporting laws and efforts made to protect children, as well as supporting those who have the ability to support children. It is best to take a proactive approach in addressing issues associated with digital citizenship. This would involve educating children, parents and teachers on digital citizenship and literacy. They would greatly gain relevant knowledge on how to be a good digital citizen.
Parents can help promote constructive digital citizenship for their children by helping to protect the child’s privacy. It is important for them to be careful what they post about their children. On the internet, once a photo of someone is posted, it is exposed to numerous databases that they have little or no control over. Facial recognition characterizes the internet, whereby they are shareable across search engines, photo-editing apps, TV sets and other databases. Social networks are open circuits which share information across the internet (Blum-Ross, 2015). Parents should credit a considerable level of privacy to their children with regard to exposure to digital citizenship, and preferably let the children decide what information or photos of themselves they would like to be shared on the internet.
There is a rising need for research to be carried out in developing countries to apply the lessons learnt, resources and best practices from developed countries. The findings from this research would be of great value in equipping program implementers and policymakers in their tasks as they work towards establishing policies, programmes, campaigns and other factors that are customized to suit the needs and context of the digital citizens of a certain region (Bangkok, 2015). There is a great need for capacity building, policy responses, advocacy programmes and related resources in trying to raise appropriate awareness for children on digital citizenship and best use of the Internet and other forms of ICT. This has so far been addressed by education forums held by UNESCO ICT, and the organization continues to do so.
It is essential that a balanced approach is adopted to ensure that children benefit from digital citizenship while still avoiding the negative factors that come with being a digital citizen. As the society is careful about cybersecurity, safety, well-being, reputation and privacy, they should also be alert to ensure that too much carefulness does not prevent the children from accessing online opportunities such as content production, political engagement, information quality and civic engagement (Cortesi et al, 2020). There are many opportunities offered in the digital environment that youth can benefit from if they acquire the right skills, and these should be emphasized equally as the challenges of digital citizenship.
Educational Technology is a relevant course in this day and age. It enables students to assess and analyze various factors of technology that are critical in society. In digital footprint and identity, it is evident that many factors pose a challenge to children in their digital citizenship. The students have been deeply affected by this as they carry out their school assignments online. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as there are solutions and interventions available for counteracting the issues through involving stakeholders such as governments, non-governmental organizations, parents, teachers, well-wishers and the children themselves.
Bangkok, UNESCO. (2015). Fostering Digital Citizenship through Safe and Responsible Use of ICT: A review of the current status in Asia and the Pacific as of December 2014. Bangkok, Thailand: APEID-ICT in Education, UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau of Education.
Blum-Ross, A. (2015). ‘Sharenting’: parent bloggers and managing children’s digital footprints. Parenting for a digital future.
Buchanan, R., Southgate, E., Smith, S. P., Murray, T., & Noble, B. (2017). Post no photos, leave no trace: Children’s digital footprint management strategies. E-Learning and Digital Media, 14(5), 275-290.
Cortesi, S., Hasse, A., Lombana-Bermudez, A., Kim, S., & Gasser, U. (2020). Youth and digital citizenship+ (plus): Understanding skills for a digital world. Youth and Media, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Retrieved from https://cyber.harvard.edu/publication/2020/youth-and-digital-citizenship-plus
James, C., Weinstein, E., Mendoza, K., Pritchett, J., Vertiz, E., Yang, C. & Mendoza, K. (2019). Teaching digital citizens in today’s world: Research and insights behind the Common- Sense K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum. Common Sense Media.
Keeley, B., & Little, C. (2017). The State of the Worlds Children 2017: Children in a Digital World. UNICEF. 3 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017.
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