From milk bottles to iPads: what the next generation needs to know about their personal digital footprints…

It seems a baby can fall in love with the digital world as naturally as they love milk.  Before long they take their first footsteps with a milk bottle in one hand….and maybe an iPad in the other!  We capture these special moments digitally and share them on social media with our friends and family, many of whom will eventually feel the greatest connection with our child inside the digital world.  This is how simple it is to create a child’s digital footprint and develop their digital persona.

Over the next 10 years my daughter will become more active on the internet through her own activities and will leave her own footprints.  Thinking about this gives me a realisation of that anxiousness my parents felt when they allowed me walk to school alone.  Thankfully for parents’ today there is a solution for that kind of anxiety, it is called a mobile phone!

With the mobile phone, we also “gift” our child their personal space within the digital world.  Whether they are sending SMS’, instant messages or communicating via social media, their mobile, iPad or other personal devices will give them the greatest sense of freedom.  Unfortunately for many children this freedom comes with a false sense of empowerment on their digitised activities.

A child should know that though they are detached from the territory that is physically governed by their parents and teachers, their online activities are as permanent and visible as those photos and videos of them as babies that their parents posted on Facebook.

Every online activity leaves a digital footprint, that can be traceable, shared, copied and will contribute to the development of a child’s digital persona.  This persona will one day be judged by teachers, prospective colleges, employers and by society in general.

From our own experiences, we already see that judgement on our physical persona is progressively being replaced by our digital persona, where the latter takes precedence to decide our credibility.  This may seem unfair, as seeing and knowing a person through physical interaction should be the most reliable way of knowing their real personality.  However for practical purposes having this interaction is seldom possible.

In my opinion it is harmful to society to raise a generation of children who feel it is acceptable to manage completely separate personae in these two worlds.  The digital world can facilitate communication, openness and democracy but it is not a world where we should be apathetic to humanity.

The subject of digital footprints deserves a more in-depth look, especially for the welfare of the next generation; so I will write more posts about this and discuss the serious implications for children, unmindful of their digital activity….Stay tuned… 🙂

If you want the digital and physical worlds seamlessly connected – then let the next generations “winning personalities” interconnect the gaps

In the early years we primarily judge a child by how successful they are at school.  Though there is no doubt that success at education is a good indicator that a child is on the right path, it is winning personalities and resilience that could eventually see a child leading the life we want for them.

Success is subjective and how we measure it will evolve as we learn to understand a child’s personality.  The shaping of a child’s personality is not just based on what they are taught, but also on what they feel and experience.

“Feeling” and “experiencing” is a large part of how we engage with the digital world, and the innovation culture we see today is very much about enhancing our connection with other humans and empowering societies.

As role models and educators, our own behaviour and feelings will have an impact on how children see the world.  If we are insular and negative about the digital world, then this could influence the way a child behaves in that world; which could go either way – a “rebellious” child who secretly engages in sinister digital activities or an “obedient” child, who chooses to be disconnected from the digital world but ends up feeling very lonely.

Perhaps these are extreme examples of what could happen, but if I mention words like “cyber-bullying” and “teenage depression” then we can start to connect the dots backwards to the root causes.

Whether we like it or not, we simply need to accept that the next generation will have their lives far more embedded into a digital lifestyle than we have.  If we want them to succeed in tomorrow’s integrated digital and physical worlds then we need them to understand the distinctions between today’s digital and physical worlds and realise that there are still many serious gaps that exist.

The next generation is the future, as much as we need them to be socially responsible, equally we need them to be innovative and problem solvers.  Ultimately we will depend on their winning personalities to make the world a better place.

In my next post, I will discuss a child’s digital footprint….stay tuned..:)

Follow me on twitter: @digitalintercon

If the Digital World feels foreign, then let immigrants inspire us on how to make it another “home”….

This is my first post, and it’s dedicated to my parents –it’s a pretty personal take on my views on why we need to embrace the digital world for the welfare of the next generation.

As parents and educators, we want success for our children.  We support and guide, teach and nurture and ultimately aim to set them up for their adult life, and we do this by using our worldly experience and knowledge.

The challenge today is that children are born into two worlds; the physical world built on “Mother Earth” and the digital world built on “Father Internet” (the US Govt. built the internet – hence I think it’s male!)

As first generation immigrants in England, my parents found it hard to bring up children in a “foreign” place with a “foreign” culture.  But they choose to embrace and integrate, and eventually found a middle ground where they could feel more comfortable with their responsibilities as parents.  Similarly my wonderful head teacher at my primary school did the same; she made a tremendous effort to encourage cultural integration to the vast majority of immigrant children that attended my school.

Of course not all immigrants have adjusted to foreign culture, and without wishing to get into a debate about where that leaves the state of the world, I think it’s fair to say it certainly leaves a lot of problems with our relationship with the next generation.

But with great parents and great teachers in my life, I take inspiration and find strength in my own ability to understand the Digital World my daughter is growing up in.

My blog site will explore this fascinating Digital World and what it means for children.  In my next post I will discuss what we know about a child’s “Digital Personality”? …Stay tuned… J