OPINION: Students need to manage their digital footprint


Student scrolls through Instagram during downtime

Kaleigh Inniss, Staff Writer

In a society where information travels fast and is often taken out of context, teenagers should be more conscientious about the digital footprint they are leaving behind.

Digital footprint is “electronic breadcrumbs” that are left behind when someone uses the internet. There are two types: passive and active. Active digital footprint is when a person purposely submits information online while passive digital footprint is when their information is collected without their knowledge. 

Since the internet is so readily available, students often passively use it without really taking the time to process the information they are spreading and leaving online.

“I’ve never really thought about what I post affecting my future.” said sophomore Nina Fiore.

This isn’t unusual for a teenager, and that’s what needs to change. Especially in a generation that is so present online and on social media, individuals need to be more conscious of how they are digitally representing themselves.

According to the New York State Office of Information Technology Services, everything you post online can be traced back to you, regardless of if you delete it, a trail of data will still be left behind. Every tweet, post on Instagram, Youtube video that is posted has the potential to remain online forever. It’s important to make sure that the information you’re leaving behind is not going to harm you.

Your reputation matters, so it is important to be conscious of what information about you can be obtained from the internet. Potential employers are just one google search away from finding your social media accounts. 

For example, in 2018, a woman lost her NASA internship for posting tweets containing profanity. So, even if you don’t care about your reputation, your employers care about theirs, and you are an extension of that. 

A helpful thing people can do to manage their digital footprint is to actively think about something before they post it. Take the time to reflect on whether the content of it could possibly come back to hurt you.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance recommends that people search their name on major search engines so that they are aware of their personal information that is available to the public.

Acknowledging that what you do online now can affect you later is the first step into protecting yourself and your digital footprint.