ISTE Standard 5 – The Importance of Digital Footprint Education

Question: How can we best teach students about digital footprints?  What are the most important things they should know?

ISTE Standard 5’s central theme is focused on digital citizenship, which encompasses safe use of technology, exhibiting a positive attitude toward technology, and leadership in digital citizenship (ISTE Standard 5). I chose to focus my attention on digital footprints because it is important that students are aware that their digital footprint can reveal personal information, be used by prospective employers or admission committees, and leaves a trail of the sites visited. When students know this information, they are in a better position to determine the way in which they want to portray themselves on the internet.

The article 10 Things Your Students Should Know About Their Digital Footprints (Digital Media in the Classroom, n.d.) outlines ten of the most important things students should consider when using social media.  The article states, “many teens are unconcerned about the dangers of sharing personal information online” which is a huge concern of parents and teachers.  The author begins the list by saying that colleges and potential employers search online to see who the candidate is, and often make decisions based on what they see.  He also states that students can create profiles, but to leave out specific details about themselves.  Finally, the author cites the quote, “the internet is forever” which posits that even if you delete an email, it truly hasn’t disappeared. Students need to be aware that their actions online can have serious implications on their future, and they need to make conscious decisions about the information they want to convey to the world.

The Teaching Channel posted a video that shows how one teacher educated her elementary students about digital safety and personal information in an interactive manner. The teacher begins by asking students what they may see on a classroom bulletin board and connects it to the things someone may see online. She goes on to tell students they are detectives and need to find out whether the information the characters are displaying keeps them safe or unsafe online. The activities are fun for the students, while discussing the importance of maintaining some privacy when creating online profiles. The video can be retrieved from:

Another way in which teachers can educate their students about digital footprints and safety is through analyzing online profiles. Teachers can find positive and negative examples of people who are using social media, and then have students determine which pieces of information are appropriate and which ones are divulging too much personal information. The goal is not to scare students, but rather to show them the impact that their digital footprint can have on their lives.  Students need to be taught how to leave a positive digital footprint without compromising their safety.

Link to coggle:


Digital Media in the Classroom. (n.d.). 10 Things Your Students Should Know About Their Digital Footprints. Retrieved from:

Teaching Channel. (n.d.). Follow the Digital Trail. Retrieved from:

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6 Responses to ISTE Standard 5 – The Importance of Digital Footprint Education

  1. dccclement says:

    Carden – This is a great blog post, with a lot of good information and examples. I love the quote, “The internet is forever.” That kind of says it all. I’d like to hang that up in my classroom! I also really like the video you referenced on The Teaching Channel. I use and view that website a lot. It has many really good resources. The ideas you suggest sound fun, without making these topics scary for young students.


    • ryderd1 says:

      Thanks, Debbie! I agree that the quote should at least be in the computer lab, if not all classrooms. Students need to be aware that everything they do on the internet is traceable. I hadn’t heard of The Teaching Channel before, but it seems like a great resource. I’m glad you’ve had success using it!


  2. Hi Carden,
    I like that you focused on the idea of students cultivating a positive digital footprint. It is important to educate students on making smart decisions regarding what they post online, especially on social media. I like that educators such as the teacher in your example have found creative, engaging, age-appropriate ways to get this message across. I think it is something both parents and educators need to discuss with students. I enjoyed reading your thoughtful post!


    • ryderd1 says:

      Hi Danielle,
      I agree that it is important for both educators and parents to discuss digital safety with their students/children. Teachers may be able to deliver the information without students feeling like they are being controlled, while parents have the ability to monitor their child’s internet activity. It is my hope that students become more aware of the dangers of putting up personal information and make smart choices about the way they want to portray themselves online.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. emccormick says:

    “The internet is forever”, something that so few students realize! Thank you for focusing on the digital footprint for this module. An important aspect of digital citizenship, one that can positively or negatively impact a students future!


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