A huge issue in this age of digital lifestyles is the complex network of footprints that each of us accumulates online. ESL students who are not internet savvy must be helped to understand the implications of using the net and placing personal information in their digital footprint.
This “digital tattoo” began, for many of us, before we were even born, and it will inevitably extend beyond the day we die. Passwords, banking info., images, chats, tweets, social networking accounts...on and on it goes, getting lost in an infinite digital graveyard. But does this information really die once we stop accessing it? Do we know where it is stored, or how to delete it? An excellent website for learning about digital tattoos is digitaltattoo.ubc.ca . The site provides very informative tips, surveys, and articles for adults or teens, and provides a thought-provoking video called “Andy’s Digital Dossier”, which would stimulate excellent discussion in an adult or pre-adult ESL classroom (see screencap image above).
For adults, this can be an overwhelming thought...or maybe not...I guess it depends on whether you think about your digital identity or not. For teachers and parents, however, this is an important issue to consider when planning technology lessons or setting-up a family computer station. As a K-12 teacher of regular and ESL students, I was interested in finding a web resource that discusses internet safety and this digital tattoo idea in a kid-friendly way. I have found, much too often, that my young students are so comfortable with the digital world that they do not think twice about the permanency of their involvement. One of the best sites that I found was www.kidsmart.org.uk . This site is very interesting and informative, and would definitely appeal to kids and teens. It uses pictures, and colourful, well-organized, short but thorough lists and descriptions to teach kids how to use the latest technology skills in a safe way (like downloading music and social networking, etc.), seen in the screencap above which was taken from the homepage.
I really liked the kid-produced art that the site uses in their “Net Nasties” menu. The Net Nasties section talks about several internet dangers, like identity theft, addiction, and unreliable information, and uses student artwork to create links to these descriptions (see screencap above)...definitely check this website out if you have younger learners, or your own children! You will also find other interesting links that deal with computer awareness and safety for children of all ages, at BBC’s www.teachingenglish.org.uk
Best of luck with this topic, and remember...we cannot assume that our students REALLY understand how to be safe in the digital world!