Sunday, August 03, 2014

Digital Tattoos

I came across this blog post a while back but I never got around to writing about it. However, the image of the digital tattoo is one that has stuck with me.

Many of us address the concept of a digital footprint with our students. We all know, though, that a footprint can disappear. It can erode or be washed away. Rarely is a footprint permanent. Contrast this with a tattoo. While theoretically it can be removed, once most got through some arduous and painful steps for that to happen.

Our digital world is far more like the tattoo than the footprint. Our entire online life may be pieced together with data collected on various servers. We have all seen how a past indiscretion has been discovered by an employer or family member. That sounds far more like a tattoo than a footprint to me.

The sooner our students (and ourselves!) understand the nature of the digital tattoo, the better. But I wonder how many parents think about the tattoo in regards their children. Parents regularly created an online identity for their child by posting baby pictures, video, and stories online, some of which is harmless, but some which might be very embarrassing to the child in the future. Yet they have in essence applied a tattoo to their child -- they have connected digital content permanently to the child. And the child really cannot do much about that.

What do you think? Is the image of the digital tattoo more helpful than the image of the digital footprint in helping guide our students? Share your thoughts as a comment to this post.

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