In my regular digital safety presentations to learners in primary and high schools, one of the facts that shocks kids most is that the internet remembers everything – even what they have deleted. It is a sobering realisation for many, to think before they post in future.
So how does the internet remember? Click the image below to listen to me discussing this topic , and read my full article below….
In just the same way as we do (or should do) regular backups of the content on our computers, search engines do exactly the same thing and they keep multiple versions over time. It’s called a cache. The only way to have something permanently removed from a cache is through a legal process.
With regard to a social media platform such as Facebook, you may have removed something from your timeline but it can still come up in a search on Facebook because you don’t know how many people might have it on their own timelines. In the same way, you can remove a tag on a picture someone else has posted of you but you cannot personally remove the picture. You would have to ask them to physically remove it but it would still be saved in the Facebook cache.
There are also time machine websites that have been tracking the development and history of the internet since the 70s and they cache/backup every version of every website ever created and published on the web.
The internet remembers everything. I hope this is a good enough reason to have a conversation with your children about the importance of being a responsible user of social media and technology. Their digital reputation depends on it.
Be sure to watch this video where I discuss online dangers for kids and safety precautions they can take. And, because 9 February is Safer Internet Day, do make February the month to discuss all things related to your child’s digital safety.
Ages 0 – 10
- Parents, please activate your privacy settings on your social media profiles. We all love to post gorgeous pictures of our babies, toddlers and young children (and there might even be some naked ones too), but you must remember to choose who can view the pictures. If you post it to public and you have no privacy settings on, then this means anyone in the world can view these photographs. And there are paedophiles and predators just waiting for some cute pics of your tots to pore over and maybe even sell on to others. You can create categories such as family, friends, colleagues etc. Use them and protect your children.
Ages 10 – 18
- At this point, many of your children will have their own devices and be on social media. You need to be sensitive about the kinds of pictures you post of them. Ask their permission before posting pics as you should get them to ask permission before posting pics of you.
- Once again, privacy settings apply to both parents and tweens and teens. Have the discussion and take positive steps to taking greater care of what gets posted and who can see it.
- Create a poster to put on the back of the bathroom door and the back of the front door that says: Think before you post! We need to keep reminding our children of how to take positive action online.
- Be aware that everything that you and your children post on social networks is owned by the networks the minute you have clicked ‘post’ (check terms and conditions– most us don’t so take my word for it!).
- Reputation management is an important conversation to have with your children – recruiters will check if the online-life of a candidate for a tertiary education institution or a job is congruent with their off-line life and the image they portray during their interviews and on their CV’s.
Creative parenting expert, inspirational speaker and co-author of Tech-Savvy Parenting (Bookstorm, 2014), Future-proof Your Child (Penguin, 2008), and Easy Answers to Awkward Questions (Metz Press, 2009)